The Gordons of Gight and their castle

A view of Gight

A murder was committed at Old Deer on the bridge spanning the South Ugie Water. The murderer was William Gordon, 5th laird of Gight, his victim, Thomas Fraser. The murder was committed on 23rd December 1576.

The Gordons of Gight aquired the estate in about 1480. The castle was built in 1560 and the lands and castle were sold in 1787 to the 3rd Earl of Aberdeen by Catherine Gordon, 13th Laird of Gight, to raise funds to clear her husband's gambling debts. Her husband, John Byron, was a handsome, charming fortune-hunter who had already run through the fortune of his first wife when he married Catherine Gordon. Catherine Gordon was headstrong, with a violent and unpredictable temper, dumpy, plain, coarse and provincial in manner, her only matrimonial asset was her fortune: it did not last, with the inevitable consequence, and Gight passed out of the possession of the Gordons.

The Earl of Aberdeen gave the castle to his son who died shortly afterwards as a result of falling from his horse, and the castle, was abandoned to become ruinous.

Pratt records three prophecies about the future of the Gordons of Gight:

The ubiquitous Thomas the Rhymer here figures again, and in this particular instance abounds in rhymes and prophecies; for we have no less than three touching the future fortunes of the Gordons and the lands of Gight. The first is perhaps unrivalled in its quaint obliquity:

     Twa men sat down on Ythan brae,
     The ane did to the ither say,
     "An' what sic men may the Gordons o' Gight hae been?"

The next has a more direct application: for as the first may be supposed to give only a diffusive hint, that a time would come when the Gordons of Gight shall have become a mere tradition, so the last may be said to point to the more immediate symptoms of their decay:

     When the heron leaves the tree,
     The Laird o' Gight shall landless be.

We should be scarcely be doing justice to this last without giving the traditionary fulfilment. It is said that when the Hon. John Byron married the heiress of Gight, the denizens of the heronry, which for centuries had fixed their airy abode among the branches of a magnificent tree, in the immediate vicinity of the house, incontinently left their ancient habitation, and migrated in a troop to Kelly, where it is certain, a family of herons is now domiciled. "The riggs soon followed," is a familiar saying, which, aptly enough, fills up the tradition; the estate of Gight is now in the hands of the Earls of Aberdeen.

The third prophecy concerns the violent deaths of three men connected with Gight, and the somewhat strained connexion of subsequent accidental deaths.

Though the castle was built and occupied by a grim and unfortunate family it stood in a lovely setting high above the gorge through which the River Ythan passes, and the ruins that remain are peaceful in their beautiful and tranquil surroundings.

(Revision date: Wednesday 28th November 2012)