Aswanley Castle

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Aswanley Castle
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Location Information
Name Aswanley Castle
Owner weddings
NGR NJ 44452 39692
Lon. & Lat. 57.444033,-2.92701
Council Aberdeenshire
Parish Glass
Nearby Castles Edinglassie, Beldorney, Huntly, Sandston, Davidston, Pitlurg, Auchindoun
Year built 1692
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Aswanley is situated in the Deveron valley, seven miles west of Huntly. It is a long low L-plan building of two storeys and a garret, with a circular stair tower projecting from the north side of the main block, and another stair-tower in the usual position, within the re-entrant.

According to Tranter, the building has been much altered, the roof-line having been lowered – except on the round stair-tower, which now looks too tall. The ogee roof on the top of the round tower is not original.

There has been a courtyard on the south side of the building, of which only the arch now remains.

Inside, there are said to be few original features of interest. The ground-floor is not vaulted.

The oldest records for Aswanley record it as a Cruikshank property. Elizabeth Cruikshank is reputed to have been mother to the famous illegitimate sons of the last of the true Gordons of Strathbogie. From those two sons, Jock O’Scardargue and Tam O’Riven (or Ruthven, a village north of Huntly, in the church of which, his tomb and effigy still survive), descend most of the Gordon lines of descent. Their father, Sir John Gordon, fell at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388, and left as heiress his brother's (Sir Adam Gordon of that Ilk) legitimate daughter Elizabeth, who married Sir Alexander Seton of Winton. Their son took the name Gordon and was made the 1st Earl of Huntly. The ancient noble house of Gordon is therefore descended from a Seton on the male side, not a Gordon!

Aswanley Cup

In the dark of night, May 17th 1452, Hugh Calder, spy, Gordon supporter and kinsman creeps into the back of Earl Beardie's tent and gleams vital information. As proof of his daring he steals the Earl's silver drinking cup and carries it to the Gordon leader, the Earl of Huntly. This intelligence leads to the Earl of Huntly winning the Battle of Brechin the next day. Huntly rewarded Calder with the silver drinking vessel with instructions that it was to be kept by him and his successors at Aswanley under penalty of paying double Feu duty for his lands. The Calders and their cup lived on at Aswanley for 300 years. Alexander Calder, (1681-1768) was a drunkard and spendthrift and was lent money by Duff of Braco giving Aswanley lands as security. The treasured cup left Aswanley in exchange for tavern bills.

Sometime after 1745 a party of Jacobite gentlemen returned to hold a meeting in a small inn between Elgin and Forres. Moray, Gordon of Cobairdy, while taking a peat to throw on the fire, saw something glinting in the bottom of the peat bunker. He pulled out a large, handsome, old cup squashed and flattened. Recognising its rarity, he redemmed it at considerable cost from the inn keeper and had it repaired. There is an inscription in the centre of the lid: 'Titubantem Firmavit Huntlens - Breechin, Mai 20 1453' - but in characters apparently of the 17th Century. Perhaps, the cup was a 17th century copy of the original. It was obviously a fine piece of silver, being exhibited in 1856 at the Archeological Society of London, held in Edinburgh. It has also been exhibited in the South Kensington Museum. Subsequently, it was held by the Duke of Hamilton along with the ducal plate. It's current whereabouts are unknown.


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