Scheduled Monument

Migvie CastleSM11470

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Secular: castle
Local Authority
NJ 43637 6589
343637, 806589


The monument comprises the visible remains of Migvie Castle, the principal stronghold of the lordship of Cromar, one of the three lordships in the Earldom of Mar. It lies on the top of a hillock 250 m S of Migvie parish church at 260 m OD and is covered by rough grass and broom scrub.

The castle is first recorded in a charter of the Earl of Mar in1268 and is thought to have been abandoned by 1565. The turf-covered footings suggest that the site belongs to a group of early Scottish stone castles termed simple rectangular castles of enclosure. These characteristically comprised a substantial stone curtain wall, pierced with few openings, enclosing a courtyard around which were ranged lean-to buildings of stone or timber.

The First Edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map shows the outline of the roughly rectangular enclosure and this can still be traced on the ground as a low bank. It measures approximately 45 m from NW-SE by 23 m transversely. The best-preserved section is at the W end, where it survives up to 0.9 m high and 1.8 m wide, with corework masonry bonded by lime mortar still visible in places. There are some undulations in the interior, but these are difficult to interpret.

The area to be scheduled is sub-rectangular in plan, to include the visible remains and an area around in which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes the above-ground elements of existing fences and the wooden telegraph pole, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is visible in the landscape and occupies a commanding position overlooking the former main road N from Aboyne to Strathdon and affording extensive views S over Strathdee and the Howe of Cromar. The First Edition OS map depicts the site within an area of rough grazing and, despite the past construction of trackways, field boundaries and buildings shown on the historic mapping, the continued lack of cultivation of the site as a whole is likely to have resulted in the preservation of archaeological deposits within the castle. It therefore has the potential to reveal further information about the construction and use of this important centre of medieval lordship in the Earldom of Mar.

Contextual characteristics: The site has the potential to add to the knowledge of the construction and use of early stone castles in Scotland and, in particular, to the class of simple rectangular enclosure castles. We have only identified a dozen or so of these in Scotland. The clear archaeological potential of the site, combined with the documentary evidence relating to Migvie, make the research potential of the site of exceptional value. (Migvie Castle is one of several examples, in the Earldom of Mar, of a castle juxtaposed to a parish church, a relationship demonstrating Anglo-French influence in the semi-autonomous earldom.) It is of value for comparison and contrast to other baronial residences, both in the region and nationally.

Associative characteristics: Migvie Castle was the principal stronghold of the lordship of Cromar, one of the three lordships into which the Earldom of Mar was divided in the 1220s. It would have been a focal point in the exercise of baronial justice; in the mid 14th century, Thomas, Earl of Mar held his head court 'at the stone of Migvie in Cromar'. Following the annexation of Mar by the Crown in 1435, the earldom was broken up and Migvie passed into the hands of the Rutherfords of Tarland. Migvie Castle is last mentioned in a royal charter of 1565, although it is not thought to have been habitable by that date.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of centres of lordship in the region and, by association, the rest of Scotland during the medieval period. It appears to be an example of a rare site type dated to the late 12th and early 13th centuries and largely restricted (within Britain) to the highland zone of Scotland. The loss of this important castle site would erode our ability to understand the development of stone castles in Scotland and medieval lordship and society in the region.



RCAHMS record the monument as NJ40NW11, Aberdeenshire SMR as NJ40NW0011.


RCAHMS, 1975/6, AZ5060, Migvie Castle.

Grampian SMR, 1992, AAS/93/03/G7 1-15.

Grampian SMR, 1992, AAS/93/03/G7 10.


Bogdan N and Bryce I B D 1991, 'Castles, manors and townhouses survey', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 33.

Cooper K C, Anderson D and Irving D 2000, 'Migvie Castle, Aberdeesnhire (Logie-Coldstone Parish)', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 11.

Dunbar J G and Duncan A A M 1971, 'Tarbert Castle', SCOT HIST REV 50, 1-17.

Simpson W D 1949, THE EARLDOM OF MAR: BEING A SEQUEL TO THE PROVINCE OF MAR 1943, Aberdeen University Press, 81.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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