Scheduled Monument

Glenbuchat CastleSM90151

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle; garden
Local Authority
NJ 39729 14901
339729, 814901


The monument to be scheduled comprises the remains of Glenbuchat Castle and a surrounding area of land representing part of the policies.

The castle is a fine example of a Z-plan tower-house, with square towers, or jambs, placed at diagonally opposing corners of a central rectangular block. Its external appearance is enlivened by projecting rounded and rectangular turrets, rounded projecting stair turrets carried on squinches in the re-entrant angles, tall chimney stacks and crow-stepped gables. The doorway, in the east face of the SW jamb, is covered by a lintel bearing the inscription: IOHN . GORDON . HELEN . CARNEGIE . 1590 / NOTHING . ON . EARTH . REMAINS . BOT . FAIME. Inside the door, a spiral stair, much altered in recent times, leads up to the first floor.

As first constructed, the building had two floors and an attic storey above a vaulted basement. A first-floor hall, in the central block, rose through two floors, with a kitchen and store rooms below. The NE and SW jambs contained chambers in their upper levels, above a pantry and stair respectively.

In the early 18th century, however, the hall was subdivided to form a dining room and drawing room, and its ceiling was lowered to allow the insertion of another two chambers above it, the western one being lit by a large four-light window.

The area north of the castle is traversed from SW to E by a disused mill-lade, while low earthworks to the NE of the castle appear to indicate remains of a former garden enclosure.

The builder of the castle, John Gordon of Cairnburrow, was in possession of the estate in 1572. As the inscription indicates, he built the castle in 1590 to mark the occasion of his marriage to his second wife, Helen Carnegie, daughter of Sir Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird (Angus).

The reorganization of the interior was probably carried out shortly after 1701, when the estate was purchased by John Gordon of Knockespock for his son, also named John. John Gordon sold it in 1738 to William Duff, Lord Braco, and by the mid 19th century it had been abandoned in favour of nearby Glenbuchat House.

The monument to be scheduled includes the castle itself and an irregular area of enclosed land adjoining it on the N, NE, S and W, measuring overall some 200m E-W by 112m N-S, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The enclosed car park area NE of the castle and all boundary walls and fences surrounding the scheduled area dependent on the castle are to be excluded from the scheduling.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as representing an exceptionally fine and well-preserved example of a Z-plan castle whose date of construction and history of occupation are well documented. It contributes to an understanding of the architectural taste, material culture and social and economic history of the late 16th century to the late 18th, while the area adjoining it has the potential to add further pertinent information through archaeological excavation. The monument's importance is reflected in its status as a Property in Care of the Scottish Ministers.



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ 31 SE 4.


Cross, M. (1994) Bibliography of Monuments in the Care of the Secretary of State for Scotland, Glasgow, 334.

Giles, J. (1936) 'Drawings of Aberdeenshire castles', ed. W. D. Simpson, Spalding Club, vol. LVIII, Aberdeen.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, vol. 2, 242.

Simpson, W. D. (1942) 'Glenbuchat and its castle', in Simpson, W. D. The Book of Glenbuchat, Aberdeen, 1-38.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Glenbuchat Castle

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Related Designations


    Designation Type
    Listed Building (B)

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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. 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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