Finavon estate was the property of the Lindsay Earls of Crawford from 1375, who built the now-ruined castle. David Lindsay, 10th Earl of Crawford, married Margaret, the daughter of Cardinal David Beaton, at Finavon in 1546.

Extravagance ruined the Crawford fortunes, and in 1625 the barony of Finavon was disposed of by a forced sale to Alexander Lindsay, 2nd Lord Spynie. It passed through the Carnegie family, the Gordon Earls of Aboyne and the Gardynes.

In 1843 the Castle was bought by Thomas Gardyne of Middleton. Through an 18th-century marriage he came of the old Lindsay stock. His descendant, Lieutenant-Colonel Alan David Greenhill Gardyne died in 1953, leaving the estate to a daughter, Mrs Susan Mazur.

The castle was an L-plan tower-house of five storeys, with a garret and a courtyard. The tower visible today dates from about 1600. Excavations have revealed that the tower is an adjunct tacked onto the north-east corner of a much older, more extensive structure.

The house is a Scottish baronial style mansion built in 1865 for the then laird, David Greenhill Gardyne, by Messrs Carver and Symon of Arbroath.

The nearby Finavon Doocot is Scotland's largest dovecot, with 2400 nesting boxes. It is believed to have been built for the Earl of Crawford in the 16th Century and is now maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.

On Finavon Hill, above the castle there is a vitrified Iron Age hillfort dating from the mid-1st millennium BCE.

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Founded: 1375
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.