castle ruins on hill approached by twisting paths, once trodden
by smugglers carrying tax-free whisky from illicit stills. View
from outside only. Z-shaped with round and square turrets, steep
gables and tall chimney stacks. Stone inscription above entrance
states that if was built 1590 to mark marriage of John Gordon
of Cairnburrow to Helen Carnegie.
The location of this attractive castle was well chosen. It stands
on high ground between the River Don and the Water of Buchat,
commanding a fine view down Strathdon to the east. Built in 1590,
this excellant example of a Z-shaped castle has survived remarkable
intact, and its ground floors can be explored with ease.
was built as a new residence for John Gordon of Cairburrow and
his second wife, Helen Carnegie, on the occassion of their marriage,
recorded on the lintel above the entrance.
The inscription reads:-
ON EARTH REMANIS BOT FAIME
motto means "Nothing earthly can endure without good repute",
but its message was lost to their descendants. Their sons quarrelled
over their inheritance, and a later descendant locked his mother
in the castle for a month.
picture to the left is John Gordon or as he was affectionately
know to his Jacobite friends "Old Glenbucket"
Carnegie was the daughter of Sir Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird in
Angus, who had been ambassador-extraordinary at the French royal
court. A most unusual architectural feature of Glenbuchat is the
flying arches supporting the stair turrets, a device popular in
France; this may suggest that the master mason was sent from Angus
to build the brides new home. There are certainly similarities
between Glen Buchat and Hatton Castle in Angus (built 1575).
original Gordon Family of Glenbuchat gave way in 1701 to another
branch, when John Gordon of Knockespock purchased the estate for
his son, also named John. Know latterly as "old Glenbucket"
(an old spelling), he was laird of the castle until he sold it
in 1738. In sharp contrast to his unruly predecessors, who spent
their time in family squabbles, John Gordon aquired an almost
legendary reputation as an unswerving supporter of the Jacobite
Erskine, Earl of Mar, visited Glenbuchat in 1715, shortly before
the famous gathering at Braemar at which King James' standard
was raised. It was even said that King George II was haunted in
his dreams by the figure of "old Glenbucket" and that
he exclaimed in broken english, "De gread Glenbogged is gomin"
("the great Glenbucket is comming").
had ceased to be the Gordon home by the time it was sold in 1738
and was already partly unroofed. By the mid 19th century, it was
entirely unroofed but the estate was bought by James Barclay,
MP, in 1901 and essential repairs were made to conserve the ruin.
In 1946 the castle was placed in state care by Colonel James Barclay
Milen, and two years later the Deeside Field Club purchased the
Castle Park and gifted it to the nation, ensuring that the castle
retained its attractive setting.
Z-shaped plan of Glenbuchat was a favourite Scottish design, in
which the main rectangular building was flanked by two square
towers at diagonally opposing corners. A generous provision of
turrets and gun loops left no area round the castle undefended,
and the single entrance was guarded by a gunloop in the southeast
turret which is "raked" downwards.
exterior of the castle, with its round and sqaure corbelled turrets,
crow stepped gable, projecting stair towers carried on flying
arches, and tall chimmeny stacks, was clearly designed to impress
as well as to warn away unwelcome intruders. The stair turrets
had conical roofs. Ashlar from the ruins of Kildrummy was used
round doorways, windows and gun loops, and the whole building
was probably harled. A bell once hung in the vertical slot in
the south face of the square turret at the top of the south west
tower; a watcher here would spot any movement along the ridge
top from the west.
into the castle was through a stout wooden door which could only
be opened if the massive iron gate, or yett, behind it were opend
first. The hinge-crooks on which the yett hung can still be seen.
Inside, the basement of this tower contains a vaulted storeroom
and a circular stair leading up to the lairds appartments. To
the right of the stair a door opens into the main block, where
a passage leads past tow cellars into the kitchen. The first cellar
has a service stair rising to the first floor and was probably
the wine cellar. The kitchen has a large arch fireplace with wall
cupboards at either end where salt was kept dry. Off the kitchen,
the ground floor of the northeast tower was probably used as a
pantry. All these rooms have vaulted ceilings - and a torch is
usefull when exploring them.
the first floor, at the head of the main stair in the south werst
tower, is a small bed chamber. The main house at this level originally
contained one large room, the lairds hall, and the lairds bed
chamber was in the northwest tower, furnished with a latrine within
the wall at one corner.
interior of the castle was remodelled, probably soon after John
Gordon of Knockespock took over in 1701. The lairds hall was divided
into tow to create a dinning room and a drawing room more suited
to contemporary social taste, and the ceiling was lowered to make
space for a new second floor beneath the old garret. By using
wooden partitions, four extra bedrooms were provided on the new
floor, in addition to those in the towers.
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