Ancient Monuments

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Pitsligo Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Troup, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.6923 / 57°41'32"N

Longitude: -2.1072 / 2°6'25"W

OS Eastings: 393707

OS Northings: 866941

OS Grid: NJ937669

Mapcode National: GBR P84D.CBC

Mapcode Global: WH9N0.LXSF

Entry Name: Pitsligo Castle

Scheduled Date: 24 January 1995

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6146

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Pitsligo

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Troup

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument consists of a large roofless courtyard castle of 15th to 18th century date, with an extensive walled garden to N and an enclosed area of woodland to S. The latter contains a natural spring, known locally as the Nine Maidens' Well, after the daughters of St Donevald.

A forecourt to the W is entered through a round-headed arch, dated 1656, decorated with roll-moulding. From this a low vaulted pend leads through the two storey W range into the courtyard. The castle is dominated by a large keep, generally considered to have been built by Sir William Forbes when he acquired the estate in 1424; it was formerly of 3 storeys but was reduced to 2 in 1703. This stands to the SW, but its E wall has broken away. The E range appears to have contained a first-floor suite of rooms, leading to a bedchamber in the three storey drum tower that projects from the NE corner. A monumental stair in the NE angle of the courtyard bears two representations of the royal arms of James VI and I, dated 1577 and 1603 respectively. The N range apparently contained a gallery above a series of chambers; its W end is still roofed, having served as a farmhouse in the 19th century.

The area to be scheduled is approximately rectangular, measuring some 150m E-W by 130m N-S and including all boundary walls, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because although now ruinous and robbed of most of its freestone, it was clearly in its time a significant palatial residence, on a par with another Forbes Castle, Tolquhon, whose development from keep-and-barmkin to courtyard castle or palace is remarkably similar. Despite its destruction in the 1740s, enough survives of Pitsligo to appreciate its formal layout and development. Its importance is also enhanced first by its surviving below-ground archaeology, which has the potential to shed further light on the development of the castle and its gardens, and on the daily life of its inhabitants; secondly, by the proximity of other neighbouring monuments associated with the Forbes family (Lords Pitsligo), including Pitullie Castle, Pitsligo Kirk (1632), and the Pitsligo loft (1634), now re-erected in the Hill Church of Rosehearty; and thirdly by the association of Alexander, fourth Lord Pitsligo, with the Jacobite cause, as a result of which, following its destruction in 1746, the castle has subsequently become enshrined in the national conciousness.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ96NW 7.


MacGibbon D and Ross T 1892, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, IV, 294-7.

McKean C 1991, 'The House of Pitsligo', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 121, 369-90.

Simpson W D 1956a, 'Pitsligo Castle, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 88, 369-90.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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