Featured Image of Esslemont Castle

The History of Esslemont Castle

Esslemont Castle is an intriguingly beautiful tower house based in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Located directly on the A920 west of Ellon, it is certainly a sight to see. It was originally raised in the form of a normal enclosure castle and was augmented into a Tower House in the late fifteenth century.

The history of Esslemont Castle

Esslemont Castle has been through a lot of things in its life. Nowadays, it is safe as a designated scheduled monument. However, it had to go through things such as a devastating attack by the Hay family that meant the castle had to undergo a rather large period of rebuilding to become a new Renaissance-style tower house.

The early history

The very first mention of Esslemont Castle is as ‘the manor of Eislemont’ back in the 14th century. In the 14th century, the lands of Esslemont were passed in the form of marriage from the family of Mareschal by the marriage of the heiress Janet to Francis le Chen of Stralochin.

In 1493, the castle was badly burnt and had to undergo re-building via a king’s license that dated to 1500. In 1564, Patrick Cheyne was created baron of Esslemont by Queen Mary who stayed at Esslemont Castle during her campaign against the Earl of Huntly. In 1575 or 1576, a fortalice and tower were recorded.

A feud begins

As a result of the feud between the Cheynes and the Hays, the castle was subsequently destroyed. In 1609, the name of the lands, now as ‘Essilmounthe’ appeared in Scottish records. The castle ceased to be regularly occupied in 1625 when the estate passed to the Errol family.

In 1728, it then became the property of Robert Gorgon and may have been somewhat occupied until 1769 when the existing mansion, Esslemont House, was erected in its vicinity.

The excavations

In 1938, excavation within the enclosure revealed the lower courses of a much earlier castle. It was a massive L-shaped tower house with walls that were 6-7 feet thick and 6 feet high. There was also a curtain wall found that was 4 feet thick. It is thought that the surrounding ditch may date from the 14th century.

Finds from the excavation also revealed 14/15th-century potsherds, a medallion, and a worn shilling of William III.

The current day

Nowadays, the castle is completely roofless and missing large sections of the wall that were reused in building other sites nearby. The Gordon Arms is still visible on the exterior of the castle.

Roofless and missing large sections of Esslemont Castle
Langenegg 1“, by Richard Mayer, is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Esslemont Castle Timeline

  • 14th century- The very first mention of Esslemont Castle is as ‘the manor of Eislemont’
  • 14th century- The lands of Esslemont are passed in the form of marriage from the family of Mareschal by marriage of the heiress Janet to Francis le Chen of Stralochin
  • 1493- The castle is badly burnt and has to undergo re-building via a king’s license
  • 1564- Patrick Cheyne is created baron of Esslemont by Queen Mary who stayed at Esslemont Castle during her campaign against the Earl of Huntly
  • 1575 or 1576- A fortalice and tower are recorded
  • 1609- The name of the lands, now as ‘Essilmounthe’ appear in Scottish records
  • 1625- The castle ceased to be regularly occupied
  • 1728- The castle becomes the property of Robert Gorgon
  • 1938- An excavation within the enclosure reveals the lower courses of a much earlier castle

Esslemont Castle facts

  • The Gordon Arms are still visible on the exterior of the castle
  • Esslemont Castle was originally raised in the form of a normal enclosure castle and was augmented into a Tower House in the late fifteenth century
  • The first mention of Esslemont Castle was as ‘the manor of Eislemont’
  • The castle was once completely destroyed by the Hay family
  • Finds from an excavation revealed 14/15th-century potsherds, a medallion, and a worn shilling of William III

Who owns Esslemont Castle?

Nowadays, Esslemont Castle is now privately owned.

Tourism

Unfortunately, Esslemont Castle is no longer open to the public. However, nearby you can visit sites such as Balmoral Castle, Dunnottar Castle, Craigievar Castle, and Fyvie Castle.


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