Corgarff Castle: An Isolated Castle with a Turbulent History

Corgarff Castle is located in the village of Corgarff, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was built around 1530 by the Elphinstone Family, a noble and baronial clan, and leased to the Forbes of Towie. The castle was initially built as a house but later converted into a barrack for the government troops.

Corgarff Castle

The castle has a saddening and turbulent history.

In 1571 it was burned down by the enemy of the Forbes family, Adam Gordon of Auchindoun. The fire killed Margaret Campbell, Lady Forbes, her children, and numerous others, 26 in total. The tragic event even gave rise to the ballad of Edom o Gordon.


Corgarff Castle was burned down several times throughout its history.

In May 1607 the castle was captured by Alexander Forbes of Towie and his companions. They broke down the gate and then fortified the house. In 1645, the Marquis of Montrose occupied the isolated castle and used it as an assembly point. But it was set on fire twice. Later, The 23rd Earl of Mar John Eskrine, one of the leading figures of the Jacobite Uprising of 1715, marched to Corgarff Castle to assemble and equip his army before marching on to Braemar. But after his defeat in the same year, the government forces burned down the castle again and the Earl’s estates were forfeited.


In 1748 British government bought the castle to rebuild and extend it as barracks. The castle became a work of defensive engineering as the government built an unusual star-shaped perimeter wall with many gun loopholes. Due to the isolated location of the castle, the government troops were stationed there and the military use continued well into 1831. After that, the tower was used as a base to prevent illegal whiskey production in the area.

Corgarff Castle

The castle remained part of the Delnadamph estate belonging to the Stockdale family until they passed the castle into state care in 1961. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland as it has been designated a ”scheduled ancient monument.” It is open to the public.

Corgarff Castle
Corgarff Castle