Ancient Monuments

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Inverugie Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Peterhead North and Rattray, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.5248 / 57°31'29"N

Longitude: -1.8311 / 1°49'51"W

OS Eastings: 410214

OS Northings: 848308

OS Grid: NK102483

Mapcode National: GBR P8TT.ZR1

Mapcode Global: WHBQ7.V477

Entry Name: Inverugie Castle

Scheduled Date: 30 December 1936

Last Amended: 13 March 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM98

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: St Fergus

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Peterhead North and Rattray

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument is the remains of a tower house dating to the late 16th century and early 17th century with related courtyards and ancillary buildings. The tower house is visible as the standing remains of a rectangular building with two round towers. A small outer courtyard defined by a low wall and archway is visible to the south of the tower house, leading into a larger courtyard defined by a two story range on the south and the vaulted remains of a further structure to the north. An additional two storey building survives to the north of the tower house. The monument is located on the east bank of the River Ugie, about 20m above sea level.

The tower house is aligned north-northeast by south-southwest with round towers on the northeast and southeast corners. A low wall to the south of the southernmost tower defines the limit of a small courtyard, which was originally accessed through an ornamented arched gateway attached to the south tower, now removed. To the west a small archway leads into a large courtyard flanked by the remains a range of buildings on the south. A vault may represent the remains of a range of buildings on the north side of the courtyard. A further range of buildings survives to the north of the tower house.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all modern fences and boundary walls and the metal gate at the arched gateway.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assesed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument consists of the upstanding remains of a late 16th century/early 17th century tower house with associated ancillary ranges. Although the tower house was partly demolished in 1899, it retains its overall plan as well as architectural and structural details, including window dressings, fireplaces, and gun loops. The significance of the tower house is accentuated by the survival of ancillary buildings and courtyards. The overall plan of the ancillary building and their relationship to the tower house can be clearly understood. The monument has the potential to enhance our understanding of the date of construction of the tower house and subsequent phases. The monument can add to our knowledge of construction techniques and architectural preferences of the time, and the way in which the fashion and function of such buildings developed.

There is no record of an archaeological excavation or other ground disturbance, therefore there is high potential for the survival of archaeological deposits, artefacts and ecofacts within, beneath and around the upstanding remains. Such buried archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, and about land use and environment.

Construction of the castle dates to the late 16th century/early 17th century, with works continuing into the later 17th century. It was repaired and renovated in the late 18th century but stripped of these renovations prior to 1837 and partly demolished in 1899. The monument therefore has an extended development sequence. Scientific study of the monument would allow us to develop a better understanding of the overall chronology of the site, including its date of origin and development sequence.

Contextual Characteristics

Tower houses are a widespread but diverse class of monument across Scotland. They became a popular form of residence with the Scottish nobility and lairdly class during the 14th century perhaps influenced by David II building a tower house at Edinburgh Castle. Towers houses continued to be the chosen architectural form for the residences of Scottish elites throughout the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. Tower houses provided a degree of security but were also a means of displaying wealth, social status and martial knowledge.

Inverugie castle is one of several late medieval/early modern defensible houses in Aberdeenshire, including Ravenscraig Castle (scheduled monument SM2496; Canmore ID 20992), Boddam Castle (scheduled monument SM3252; Canmore ID 21292), Old Slains Castle (scheduled monument SM3250; Canmore ID 20953) and Clackriach Castle (scheduled monument SM5534; Canmore ID 20600). The proximity of these monuments can give important insights into the late medieval landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, settlement hierarchy and land-use.

The example at Inverugie is of particular significance because of its surviving architectural features and unusual plan with towers on the northeast and southeast corners; tower houses of this form more usually have towers positioned on diagonally opposite angles. Most tower houses were originally provided with ancillary buildings and courtyards but such associated features rarely survive. Inverugie therefore represents an unusual survival of a late medieval/early modern defensible house with contemporary ancillary features. The complex at Inverugie has the potential to broaden our understanding of the nature and chronology of late medieval/early modern defensible houses, and their place within the landscape of northeast Scotland.

Associative Characteristics

Documentary sources indicate the tower house was largely built by George 5th Earl Marischal, the founder of Marischal College in Aberdeen, who died in 1623. The works were continued by his grandson, Earl William Marischal, who succeeded in 1635 and died in 1671. The Keith lands were forfeited after 1745 and Inverugie was purchased by the Fergusons of Pitfour in 1764. The tower house was repaired and an observatory added after 1795 by James Ferguson of Pitfour, but partly dismantled by Admiral Ferguson prior to 1837, and subsequently partly demolished in 1899.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of the date, construction, use and development of tower houses. It is an impressive structure that retains its field characteristics and contains architectural and structural detail, including window dressings, fireplaces and gun loops. The monument's importance is further accentuated by the survival of ancillary buildings and courtyards, and additional evidence of such features is likely to survive as associated buried archaeological remains. It makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and would have been a prominent part of the historic landscape. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character and development of tower houses, and the structure and organisation of society and economy during the late medieval and early post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 21204 (accessed on 11/11/2016).

Local Authority Sites and Monuments Record Reference NK14NW0003 (accessed on 11/11/2016).

Cruden, S. (1960a) The Scottish Castle'. Edinburgh, pp216-7

Ferguson, J. (1913) The old castles of Buchan', Trans Buchan Fld Club, vol. 10, 1908-13, p75-6

Leith Hay, A. (1887) Castles of Aberdeenshire: historical and descriptive notes. Aberdeen. Plates XXIII, XXIV, XXV.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v. Edinburgh, Vol.2, p324-8

Statistical Account (1791-99) Parish of St Fergus, County of Aberdeenshire, Vol. XV. p153.

New Statistical Account (1834-45) Parish of St Fergus, County of Aberdeenshire, Vol. XII. p195.

The topographical, statistical and historical gazetteer of Scotland (1842) St Fergus, Vol. One. p531-2.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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