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The Sixteenth Century

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Aberdour Castle Scotland

Aberdour Castle
Aberdour Castle Photographs


Built in the 14th century, Aberdour Castle sits near Aberdour in Fife on the Firth of Forth and had been in Douglas ownership from 1342 until it passed into state care in 1924. It comprises of three distinct parts, the latter of which is still inhabited and its grounds include a 16th century beehive, a well, gardens and walled terraces. In 1725, the Douglas family moved to Aberdour House. It has also been home to the Earl of Moray.

Aberdour Castle has been in the possession of the Douglas family since 1342, though it was not until 1642 that it became the principal seat of the branch of the family whose head was created Earl of Morton in 1456. The Mortons were closely connected to the crown, and from 1572 to 1578 the fourth Earl served as Regent for the young James VI. The future sixth Earl is best known for having served as custodian of Mary Queen of Scots when she had been imprisoned in Lochleven Castle in 1567-8. The support of the seventh Earl for Charles I
during the Civil War led to the sale of many of the Morton lands. As a result, the Earl came to live at Aberdour. The castle was abandoned by the Morton family in 1725 when they moved to nearby Aberdour House, though it continued in use for another 200 years.

The castle today represents four main building periods. The earliest known castle on the site was the lower part of the towerhouse, now sadly ruined. The earliest part
may have been built around the thirteenth century but it was extensively rebuilt in the fifteenth century: it lies at the far western end of the castle. This tower probably lay within a courtyard which would have contained ancillary buildings such as the kitchen and stables.

It was probably in the 1570s that the castle was extended by the construction of what is now the central range. This building contained a kitchen and store on the ground floor and accommodation for the earl and his household on the two floors above. About 50 years later the east wing was added. On the main floor was a gallery for the display of pictures and recreation.

The delightful south front of the castle overlooks the terraced garden and a dovecot. A pleasance or walled garden lies to the east of the castle.

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