tower house
17th century


AB33 8JF
NJ 566 095
6m S of Alford
on A980


closed 2009
for restoration
should open 2010
grounds open


National Trust
Castle Explorer


Craigievar Castle

Yes, I know the picture is of a large square plastic-covered shape -- they rae in the process of re-harling the castle. A concrete-based covering was used in the last century, and it has been disastrous - water problems galore. So, they have spent the last year (and a boatload of money) to peel it all off, repair the stonework, and re-cover the castle in a more traditional recipe. Here's what it looked like before.We showed up just as they started work for the day.

closed, and covered in scaffolding whilst being re-harled

17th century

The tower is a huge L-lan castle, that rises to seven storeys. It was completed in 1626. It looks like a fairy-tale castle - all turrets and chimneys and decorated parapets topping off a smooth, almost-featureless base (it looks a bit ike a tall cupcake). It stands in a small courtyard, although the enclosing walls are mostly gone. The courtyard measured 26.6m x 24.5m. A conical-roofed corner tower survives next to the tower, and a stretch of wall still stands, leaning on modern buttressing ot keep it from falling into the courtyard. THe south side of the courtyard hsa foundations of a range of low buildings.

The main block of the castle has a surpisingly small footprint for something this tall. IT meaures only 11.7m x 8.3m (with 1.3m thick walls), and a smaller 6.4m wing is attached.

The inner corner has a taller square tower with a flat roof - it seems odd amid all the conical roofs and rounded bits. It contains the main entrance, which leads to a small entryway and three vaulted cellars, and a straight staircase to the main floor hall. However, the square tower -- placed in the usual location for a large spiral staircase -- does not contain stairs, but instead several small rooms. The staircases are bumped out inthe turrets, or are straight runs inside the building. The doorway retains its iron yett (gate).

The main hall has groin and barrel vaults, and a fabulous plaster ceiling and a large decorated fireplace sporting the Stuart coat of arms.. The room is quite tall, and contains a minstrel's gallery above on one end. The ceiling is decorated with portraits of important literary figures and famous poeple from history. The plaster and wood panelling here are decorated with the monograpms ofr the builders of the castle - William and Marjory Forbes. Upstairs, private chambers are accessed by a set of stairs in the turrets. Some orignally panelling remains inside.

Outisde, the corners of the building are all rounded, and the upper floors are slightly larger than the lower floors - the corbelling out of the turrets and bartizans hides an out-step of the walls to allow for larger rooms upstiars.

At the very top of the castle is a long gallery that spans the length of the main block and across to the wing.


From c 1457 until 1610, the lands were held by the the Mortimer family. They started a castle here, but were unable to complete it. It was sold to the Forbeses, who finished the castle in 1626.

The family was eventually made Lords Semphill, and the castle was the seat of the Clan Semphill.

The Forbes family retained ornwership of the castle until it was passed to the HIstoric Trust for Scotland in 1963.