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Delgatie Castle

Delgatie Castle Aberdeenshire Scotland

In 1594 Delgatie Castle was besieged after the Battle of Glenlivet, and the west wall breached, this damage was restored in 1597. The present chapel and kitchen were built on to the main tower in the 17th Century, and in 1720 further additions were made including the Long Drawing Room on the north side.

From 1940 to 1945 the castle was occupied by the army; when they left, the castle stood empty until 1951 when restoration work was begun.  Delgatie and Towie Barclay Castles have many common features, as both were built by the same master mason in the 16th Century and they belong to a group of Aberdeenshire castles built for families closely related and united by loyalty to Mary, Queen of Scots and the Catholic religion. In the solar or laird's private room at Delgatie, the ribs of the groin vaulted roof meet in a central boss bearing the arms of Gilbert Hay, fourth Earl of Erroll. Two of the other rooms have painted ceilings and the ceiling in the Tulip Room is decorated with proverbs on the beams interspersed with colourful satirical paintings. The castle contains a fine collection of armour including many Eastern weapons, coats of mail, a Genoese crossbow and a knight's helmet dated around 1350. Here also is a two-handed sword of about 1400 and a fine Scottish broadsword and dirk used at Culloden.

The castle has been in the possession of the Hays for nearly 700 years. The family is said to have gained its name from the Battle of Luncarty near Perth in about 971, when three giant men held a narrow pass against invading Danes. For this they were given the name Haye (in Gaelic, Garadh) which means palisade or wall, as they stood like a wall, using ox yokes as weapons, defending the pass. Historical records show that a century later two Hays came over with William of Normandy to conquer the English. By 1150 the same family had become large landowners in almost all the counties of Normandy (which then included England) and had reappeared in Scotland.
Robert the Bruce rewarded the Chief of the Hays with the title of Hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland for his part in the War of Liberation. The office may be described as combining the duties of Commander-in-Chief, Home Secretary and Earl Marshall, and is still held by the Countess of Erroll today. The clan suffered a terrible blow when the chief, the third Earl of Errol, Lord Hay of Yester. Sir Gilbert Hay of Delgatie and 87 other chieftains and officers of the name, with all their men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, were killed beside their king at Flodden Field on September 9th 1513. In 1650 Hay of Delgatie, a professional soldier who was Montrose's chief of staff, was executed with him and buried at his side in St. Giles Church.

During the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite uprisings the Hays suffered again for their loyalty and many of the families left Scotland to settle in France, Sweden, Saxony, Italy and Poland. Nowadays they are spread all over the world.


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