featured image for Fyvie Castle

The Perfect Scottish Baronial Castle – Fyvie Castle

Situated right in the heart of Aberdeenshire is an imposing 800-year-old fortress. Fyvie Castle is often considered an absolutely perfect example of Scottish Baronial architecture and is even prettier in real life than it is in photos. It is said that when you set your eyes on the castle, it is simply impossible to look away.

The history of Fyvie Castle

Much like many other castles, Fyvie Castle has a rather interesting history behind it. Legends, ghosts, folklore, and even murder plays a huge part in the history of this castle. Within the castle, you can admire a huge portrait collection with works from people such as Batoni, Raeburn, Opie, Lawrence, Hoppner, Gainsborough, and even Romney.

On top of that, you are also able to explore and check out the rather grisly death mask of a hanged murderer that is freely displayed in the library. Visit Fyvie Castle and lose yourself in the wonderful history.

File:Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire.jpg
Fyvie Castle: Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The early history

The earliest parts of Fyvie Castle are said to be from the 13th century. There are some folks who believe it was built in 1211 by William the Lion, but that is something that has never been, and will likely never be, confirmed. The first building on the site was a lovely royal lodge, one of which had a curtain wall added to it to create a large courtyard.

William the Lion used the castle to hold a Parliament in the year 1214 and after that, a succession of royal visitors followed. These visitors included Alexander II, Edward I of England, and Robert the Bruce in 1308.

File:William I, King of Scots (seal 01).png
Seal of William the Lion. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Changing hands

In the year 1380, Fyvie Castle was sold to the crown by the Lindsay family, however, it was very soon after passed to the Preston family. It was the Preston family who made the very first major changes to the castle. Today, the oldest surviving part of the castle is the Preston Tower which was built by them. Then, in the 15th century, Sir Alexander Meldrum added his own tower in the southwest corner of the castle.

The Seton family

Much of the work that we see in the castle today is the work of the Seton family. They went forth and added the ever so impressive main entrance that features a gorgeous high arched doorway flanked by two twin drum towers. These features are absolutely beautiful and a vital part of the castle’s structure. However, in 1690, the Setons made the crucial mistake of supporting the Jacobite cause, which ended in them being outlawed.

More restoration

Alexander Forbes-Leith. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Fyvie Castle soon after passed to the very powerful Gordon family, Earls of Aberdeen. They went forth and added yet another large tower, this time to the north of the castle. It was in the year 1885 that Alexander Forbes-Leith, a steel tycoon, purchased the gorgeous castle with his beloved American wife. After they had purchased it, they added a final tower, restored the entire interior, and furnished it in a very grand style.

The interior we see today is mainly thanks to the Leith influence and much of the art is from their personal collection. One of their main contributions was the lovely plasterwork that ornaments several of the staterooms. The most impressive room in the castle, however, is the Gallery which contains a large collection of wonderfully carved wooden panels that were rescued from a Dutch church.

In 1984, Alexander Forbes-Leith’s descendants sold the castle to the National Trust for Scotland.

The present day

These days, the castle is very well cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. When you visit, you can dive into a whole new world while discovering an amazing collection of antiquities, armour, and oil paintings. You can embark on some gorgeous Fyvie Castle walks around the picturesque loch or visit the restored glass-roofed racquets court and icehouse.

Fyvie Castle is most definitely a wonderful place to visit, and anyone who sets out to see it is extremely lucky. There is plenty of history as well as many oddities to learn about and enjoy there. It would be very hard to find a more interesting or historic castle in Scotland.

You may enjoy reading about other Scottish Castles such as Brechin Castle.

Fyvie Castle Ghost

Fyvie Castle is said to be home to many ghosts. One of the most popular ones is the Green Lady who is known as the head ghost because she keeps the other ghosts in check. She is supposedly the ghost of Lillian Drummond who was starved to death by her husband in the year 1601. She was put in the room by her husband, Alexander Seton, as punishment for failing to provide a son and heir.

A rescue was attempted, but it failed and resulted in Lillian having to watch her family members being killed. It is said that she witnessed body parts being flung past the room’s windows. This room is now referred to as ‘The Murder Room’. On the night her ex-husband, Alexander, remarried, ghostly screams were heard and when investigated the next morning, they found ‘Lillian Drummond’ scratched into the stone windowsill. This can still be seen to this day.

There is only one ghost within the castle that is said to be harmful, and that is John Pollock. He hides out in the library where he is thought to be guarding his death mask which he was killed in for committing murder. When looking at the mask, you can see the marks around his neck where he was hung. In the 1920s workmen doing repairs within the castle found the remains of a woman’s skeleton sealed within the walls.

They were then respectfully placed in the local churchyard. They are said to be the remains of the Grey Lady, another Fyvie Castle ghost, as once the remains were officially laid to rest, the sightings of her ghost ceased.

Fyvie Castle Timeline

  • 1211- The castle is built, possibly by William the Lion, but that is something that has never been, and will likely never be, confirmed
  • 1214- William the Lion used the castle to hold a Parliament
  • 1308- A succession of royal visitors came to the castle including Alexander II, Edward I of England, and Robert the Bruce
  • 1380- Fyvie Castle is sold to the crown by the Lindsay family, however, it was very soon after passed to the Preston family
  • 15th century- Sir Alexander Meldrum adds his own tower in the southwest corner of the castle
  • 1601- Lillian Drummond is starved to death by her husband
  • 1690- The Setons make the crucial mistake of supporting the Jacobite cause, which ended in them being outlawed
  • 1885- Alexander Forbes-Leith, a steel tycoon, purchases the gorgeous castle with his beloved American wife. He added a final tower, restored the entire interior, and furnished it in a very grand style
  • 1920s- The remains of a woman are found in the castle walls
  • 1984- Alexander Forbes-Leith’s descendants sells the castle to the National Trust for Scotland

Fyvie Castle facts

  • Fyvie Castle is over 800 years old
  • It is often considered an absolutely perfect example of Scottish Baronial architecture
  • The castle is home to over 9 different ghosts
  • There is a death mask in the castle’s library that still has marks on it from when John Pollock was killed for committing murder
  • In the 1920’s workmen doing repairs within the castle found the remains of a woman’s skeleton sealed within the walls
  • The name ‘Lillian Drummond’ is scratched into one of the stone windowsills in the castle
  • The walls are around three metres thick in some areas

Featured in Tv and Film

  • Fyvie Castle (1989)
  • The Castles of Scotland (1997)
  • The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000)
  • Spook Squad (2004)
  • I’m Famous and Frightened (2004)
  • Most Haunted (2005)
  • Help! My House Is Haunted (2018)

Books on Fyvie Castle

  • Fyvie Castle: Its lairds and their times by A. M. W Stirling (1928)
  • Fyvie Castle by Christopher Hartley (1988)
  • A Legend of Fyvie Castle by K. G. and Catherine J. B. Gordon (2011)

Who owns Fyvie Castle?

Nowadays, the castle is owned by the National Trust for Scotland after it was sold in 1984 by the descendants of Alexander Leith. They work to keep the castle and its grounds in pristine condition, and they most certainly do a wonderful job.

Tourism

There is always a lot to see and do at Fyvie Castle. You can enjoy your surroundings as well as the castle and afterwards, you can browse the castle shop to seek a variety of gifts. Afterwards, you can check out the tearoom for a light lunch or a decadent slice of cake. Follow your meal with a cup of tea or coffee.

You can visit for only £14.50 for adults, £33.00 for families, and £11.00 for concession. Aside from the castle, you can also visit Tolquhon Castle, the Skyline Trampoline Park, Willows Animal Sanctuary, and the gorgeous Castle Fraser.

More Images

  • garden at fyvie castle

2 comments

Leave a Reply