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Fyvie

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Fyvie
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Location Information
Name Fyvie
Owner NTS
NGR NJ 76390 39306
Lon. & Lat. 57.443420,-2.395092
Council Aberdeenshire
Parish Fyvie
Nearby Castles Gight, Haddo
Year built 1395
Overview map
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Fyvie was once a royal stronghold, one of a chain of fortresses throughout medieval Scotland. From 1390, following the Battle of Otterburn, five successive families created probably the finest example of Scottish Baronial architecture. An old tradition claims that these families - Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Leith, each built one of Fyvie's five towers. The oldest part dates from the 13th century, and within its ancient walls is a great wheel stair, the finest in Scotland. Contemporary paneling and plaster ceilings survive in the 17th-century Morning Room and the opulence of the Edwardian era is reflected in the interiors created by the first Lord Leith of Fyvie. A rich portrait collection includes works by Batoni, Raeburn, Romney, Gainsborough, Opie and Hoppner, and there is a fine collection of arms and amour, and 17th Century tapestries.


Lord Seton, the 4th Earl of Dunfermline, died in exile in 1694 with his possessions forfeit after taking part in the rebellion of 1689. In 1733 the Crown sold Fyvie to William Gordon, 2nd Earl of Aberdeen who required another seat for his third wife Anne and her children because Haddo House was due to be inherited by his son by his second wife. From 1770 to 1840 Anne’s son William Gordon carried out sweeping changes, the most dramatic being the demolition of the north and east wings, the building of the new vestibule and the Gordon Tower. Fyvie remained in various lines of the Gordon family until Sir Maurice Duff-Gordon, a notorious spendthrift, had to sell the castle and it’s contents in 1889.


The Curse of Fyvie:


Fyvie, Fyvie, thou's never thrive, As lang's there's in thee stanis (stones) three, There's ane intill (one in) the oldest tower, There's ane intil the ladye's bower, There's ane intill the water-yett (water gate), And thir three stanes ye's never get.


The Fyvie curse as it is known was the work of Thomas the Rhymer (also thought to be Thomas of Erceldoune). When Thomas the Rhymer was alive, his travels were well recorded, both in local lore and also in contemporary documents. Although, he probably wouldn't have been a welcome guest, since his prophecies almost always foretold of disaster, bloodshed and general mayhem. According to James Murray, the 19th Century Editor of the five ancient manuscripts that tell of Thomas' story, the gates of Fyvie Castle had stood open for seven years and a day, awaiting his inevitable arrival. When he finally arrived at the Castle, it was an extremely stormy and windy. Therefore, it was to his surprise that the gates slammed shut in his face due to the wind. Therefore, he angrily uttered the blood curdling prophecy.


This obscure curse was interpreted to mean that three stones, would act as evil omens to Fyvie Castle as long as they remained part of the building itself. To this day, only one of the stones has been found, the one in "the ladye's bower", therefore, the curse remains. Today this stone is kept in a wooden bowl in the Charter Room at Fyvie. At times it is bone dry, and at other times is seen to be exuding enough water to actually fill the bowl itself. Although Thomas the Rhymer was far from being specific, the nature of the curse was interpreted as meaning that no heir would ever be born in the castle, and this is said to have been true since the year 1433. It was also said that the Castle would never pass from father to his eldest son. Indeed, among the Forbes-Leith family, the last private owners of the castle, no first born survived to inherit it. Furthermore, the curse will cause the death of the laird and blindness of his wife should he try and enter the secret chamber below the Charter Room, where the case containing the ‘Weeping Stone’ is kept.


The Ghost of Dame Lilias Drummond mystery dates from the night of 27 October 1601 and has so far defied any rational explanation. In 1592, Lord Fyvie, Alexander Seton married Dame Lilias (or Lilies) Drummond. Dame Lilias was a happy woman, and for nine years she and her husband were contented together. She bore him five daughters, and then on the 8 May 1601, she suddenly died at her husbands house in Fife, where she was buried. She was not quite 30 when she died. Seton mourned her death very quickly and set his sights on another noble family’s daughter Lady Grizel Leslie. It has been said that Seton began an affair with Lady Leslie before his wife's death, since he was tired of waiting for a son to be born and an heir who never came. Because of this, it is said that Dame Lilias died of a broken heart. Within six months of Dame Lilias' death, Seton married Lady Leslie. On the night of 27 October, they retired to their bedchamber. That night, they both heard heavy sighs coming from outside their room. Seton went to investigate, but no intruder was ever found. With the dawn arrival, they discovered a startling indication of the intruder's identity. Carved upside down on the window sill, in neat 3 inch high letters, was the name D. LILIAS DRUMMOND. The carving, still quite clear today and unworn, is over 50 feet from the ground in the old defensive wall of the castle, which was deliberately built without any footholds.

A story is told that in 1920 during renovation work the skeleton of a woman was discovered behind a bedroom wall. On the day the remains were laid to rest in Fyvie cemetery, the castle residents started to be plagued by strange noises and unexplained happenings. Fearing he had offended the dead woman, the Laird of the castle had the skeleton exhumed and replaced behind the bedroom wall, at which the haunting ceased.

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