Pitsligo Castle and Pitullie Castle

Castle image

Close by Rosehearty are the ruins of Pitsligo Castle and Pitullie Castle

Pitsligo Castle

Pitsligo Castle was the seat of Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, the peerage forfeited in 1746 as a result of the support of Alexander Forbes, 4th Lord of Pitsligo, for the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. A consequence of this was that the castle was looted by Flemish troops (Watt, 1988) and finally unroofed by the Gardens of Troup (McKean, 1989). In contrast to the traditional view of Scots Castles as functionally defensive, McKean (1991) develops a reconstruction of Pitsligo Castle and argues that in its final form the castle was more appropriately viewed as a château, a country house dramatised by decorative defensive features, asserting indirectly the authority and knightly virtues of the proprietor. McKean remarks

. . . the Keiths, the Murrays and the Lindsays would not have trapped themselves within an anachronistic and inconvienent quasi-military building form. Only those believing that 16th century Scotland remained barbaric by comparative standards on the Continent could have countenanced the idea.

Patrick Cook (1723), writing about the domestic arrangements in Pitsligo Castle (cited in Pratt 1858) states

To show the simplicity and rudeness of these times, The Old Tower of Pitsligo was built about three hundred years ago, eighty foot long, and thirty-six foot broad, the wall nine foot thick. It was about one hundred and fourteen foot high, divided into three stories, of which two are yet standing. The whole house consisted of three rooms: the lowest was the kitchen; the second was the eating-room, and is about twenty-five foot high; the third, which was taken down about twenty years ago, was the sleeping room of the whole family, and had in it twenty-four beds. Both the lower rooms were vaulted.

Pitullie Castle

Pratt states

The Castle of Pitullie, now in ruins is four or five miles distant from Fraserburgh. It would seem to have been built by the Saltoun family, as their coat-of-arms, carved in stone, is still to be seen on the original part of the building. It was, however, enlarged by the Cumines, in whose possession it remained for many years. The castle, which is within half a mile of the sea, faces south, and is an irregular building, with a front about sixty feet in length. Turrets spring from the corners at about twelve feet from the ground, and the corbelled bases of which are still remaining. At the north-west angle there is a square tower, with small angular corbelled turrets on the two corners next the sea, pierced by windows, lighting what is popularly called 'The Laird's Room'. The tower seems to be of a more recent period that the other parts of the structure; the respective dates of these older portions, as recorded on the walls, being 1674 and 1727.

The ruins of Pitullie* Castle display details confirming that it too is more properly regarded as a château rather than a primarily defensive building. McKean (1989) makes particular mention of the oriel windows, mentioned by Pratt, above, as lighting The Laird's Room, that look out from the corners of the towers, and the fine workmanship of the bases of the now lost hanging turrets.

*There is confusion about the spelling of Pitullie. Some authors prefer Pittullie.

(Revision date: Wednesday 28th November 2012)