Ancient Monuments

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Castle of Hallforest

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2291 / 57°13'44"N

Longitude: -2.3707 / 2°22'14"W

OS Eastings: 377718

OS Northings: 815430

OS Grid: NJ777154

Mapcode National: GBR X8.Z9TL

Mapcode Global: WH8P2.KKBH

Entry Name: Castle of Hallforest

Scheduled Date: 11 October 1960

Last Amended: 9 March 2005

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM92

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Kintore

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument consists of the remains of the Castle of Hallforest, an early towerhouse constructed in the 14th century. The monument stands in fairly level farmland with a prominent stony bank about 10m to the N. The monument was first scheduled in 1960 but on that occasion an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this omission.

The castle, which lies about 1.5km from Kintore, was constructed within the old royal forest of Kintore, land that was granted to Robert Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland in 1309, by Robert Bruce. It seems certain that the castle was built by 1361 when a charter was signed by David II at 'apud manerium nostrum foreste de Kyntore'. On the building of Keith Hall by the first Earl of Kintore in 1665, Halforest was abandoned and fell in to decay.

The tower was planned as an oblong 14.6m long by 9.1m wide with walls about 2.1m thick. The walls of the N, S and W elevations stand almost to wallhead height (20m), while the upper parts of the E elevation have collapsed. The tower is constructed of random rubble roughly brought to courses, using large rounded granite field gatherings, well pinned and set in a hard mortar, with granite dressing. The walls have traces of lime render, showing that it was once harled. Internally the tower is vaulted above the basement level, which would have been divided by an entresol floor which appears to have functioned as a kitchen, and also above the first floor hall. There would have originally been a first floor doorway served by an external staircase in the now ruinous E wall, as there was no internal access between the basement and floors and the upper floors. Access between the upper floors was via a staircase in the SE corner.

The tower would originally have been surrounded by a courtyard and other buildings. Although there is no trace of structures today, a drawing by Giles in 1840 shows what maybe the remains of a barmkin wall. The stony bank to the N of the castle may represent the remains of this outer wall or enclosure.

The area to be scheduled includes the tower and area surrounding the castle where remains associated with its construction and use could be expected to survive. This includes the stony bank to the N. The area is four-sided and has maximum dimensions of 70m NW-SE and 66m transversely, as indicated in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an early example of a tower, built in the turbulent years after the Wars of Independence. As such it is one a few early tower houses that mark the general adoption of this form of castle building by the Scottish nobility. The continuous connection with the Keith family accentuates the castle's importance, as does the traditional association with Robert Bruce. Although quite ruinous, the castle remains a notable landmark within the flat landscape around the River Don.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NJ71NE 21.


Cruden S 1960, THE SCOTTISH CASTLE, Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, 110-11.


Simpson D W 1923, SCOT NOTES QUERIES, 3rd, 1, 1923, 164-7, 182.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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