Abergeldie Castle

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  • Historic Sketch
  • Historic Photo
  • Today
  • Today
  • During Flood
  • John Seton Howard Gordon, Baron Abergeldie and his wife
  • After stabilization
  • Ground floor plan prior to demolition of later additions
  • Upper floor plans prior to demolition of later additions
  • Historic photos prior to demolition


Abergeldie Castle
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Location Information
Name Abergeldie Castle
Owner John Gordon, Baron Abergeldie
NGR NO 28709 95281
Lon. & Lat. 57.041818,-3.174512
Council Aberdeenshire
Parish Crathie and Braemar
Nearby Castles Balmoral, Birkhall, Knock
Year built 1556
Overview map
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In 1481 Abergeldie passed to Sir Alexander Gordon of Midmar, first son of the 1st Earl of Huntly. The castle was built by the 4th laird of this line, Alexander, better known as Black Alister. He supported his kinsman the 4th Earl of Huntly at Corrichie in 1562 and was subsequently imprisoned by Queen Mary at St. Andrews. He took a leading part in the Gordon-Forbes feud and in 1594 his son was killed fighting the Campbells and Forbes at Glenlivet. In 1592 the castle successfully resisted a raid by the Mackintoshes and other western clans known as the Great Spulzie. When the Convenanters finally took control of Deeside in the 1640s the castle was ordered to be destroyed because Alexander, 7th laird, was an ardent Royalist, but for some reason the instruction was not executed. In 1686 Abergeldie Castle was used as a mustering point by John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, when he was raising a Highland army against William III. The castle was captured and garrisoned by General Mackay but it was soon blockaded by the Farquharsons and in 1690 Mackay had to come to its relief. He reported that it would have had to surrender within three more days if the garrison had not been “timely succoured”.

When Victoria and Albert began to develop neighboring Balmoral as a holiday home they rented Abergeldie Castle, it being used by the then Queen Mother, the Duchess of Kent. It was later inhabited by the Princess Eugenie, widow of Napolean III, and then became the Deeside home of the Prince of Wales and his family. More recently it has been used to accommodate guests of the royal family when they were residing at Balmoral. The castle at present is occupied by the 21st Laird John Gordon, Baron of Abergeldie. He has been living there since 1972. It was previously on lease to the Balmoral estate ( i.e. Her Majesty) and the latter have had their lease on the game lands of the estate renewed in the year 2000.

The late 16th century tower house lies to the east of substantial 19th century extensions that have now been demolished. It consists of a block of four stories including one mostly in the roof, and a substantial round tower at the SW corner. The tower contains the main stair and is corbelled out to a square balustrade top now bearing a modern clock and cupola. The three other corners are rounded but are squared off just below the eaves. That diagonally opposite the round tower carries a round conical roofed bartizan.

In January of 2016, the River Dee experienced record flooding that wiped away a 500 yard stretch of land between the castle and the river. John Gordon, Baron Abergeldie, and his wife had to temporary abandon Abergeldie. Eventually heavy earth moving equipment was brought in and large amounts of rock and earth were moved into place to stabilize the castle.

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