Pratt (1858) wrote:

Turriff—anciently written Turtured or Turtureth, Torra, or Turra, is said to signify a mount or height. The town is pleasantly situated on a broad table-land bounding the Water of Turriff, and is sheltered on the north by the hill of Vrae, and on the east by that of Cotburn. It has a square near the centre with streets branching off in different directions, in the vicinity of which ares some of the principal buildings. . .

In 1273 the church of Turrech was bestowed by Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan, Justiciary of Scotland on the Hospital of S. Congan which he founded here for a master, six chaplains, and thirteen poor husbandmen of Buchan. . . .

The old church was a building of some note, being one hundred and twenty feet long by eighteen feet wide. The date of its erection is not known, but is supposed to be in the eleventh century, and in the time of Malcolm Canmore . . .

The only part of the structure which now remains is the eastern part of the building called the quire and the belfry, which is rather a handsome piece of architecture, and contains a fine-toned bell, bearing the date 1557.

As Pratt remarked, the buildings in Turriff are mostly constructed of a deep red sandstone and because sandstone is easily cut and drilled it allows scope for the buildings to be richly ornamented, but its softness causes the stone to be very much less durable than the granite that is the preferred stone in most of the villages of Buchan.

Delgatie Castle, a short distance away from Turriff, is a superb example of Scottish castle-building. The site has been occupied since the 11th century, and the original tower has been extended by additional building in the 16th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Pratt states

The castle stands on the west bank of a valley, the eastern verge of which abruptly rises into a hill, covered with wood. From an inscription on one part of the building, the date of its erection is 1579, but we can scarcely think that this is the age of the original castle, the style of which is Norman. Some alterations and additions were made by the late Sir Alexander Duff, which are in good keeping with the earlier parts of the structure. This venerable pile now combines the grandeur of the baronial mansion of former times with the refinements and elegances of the present day. It is a regularly castellated building, about sixty-six feet in height, parts of the walls being at least seven feet in thickness.

The castle was bought by Captain Jock Hay, Baron of Delgatie, who set to restoring a building that at the time of repurchase was in an almost ruinous state, believed by experts to be too far dilapidated to be repaired; but he and Lady Hay together set about its restoration. His project of development and restoration is continued after his death by the charitable trust he set up for this purpose.

The castle still retains the feeling of a family home, a baronial family home to be sure, but a building with its remaining spirit that escapes completely from the over-manicured, film-set feeling of many of the houses and castles in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

(Revision date: Tuesday 28th August 2012)