Inverugie Castle or Cheyne's Tower is the ruins of a motte-and-bailey castle in Aberdeenshire. The ruins are a small mound only three metres high above the River Ugie. This is all that remains of a wooden motte-and-bailey castle of Inverugie built by the Cheynne family in the 12th century. The stone ruins date from later than the original building on the site.

The location of the motte relative to the river at Inverugie suggests it was built to protect the ford at this point and that the bailey ditch (moat) would have been filled with water from the Ugie for additional defence.

In the basement of the oblong tower house there was the storage area and kitchen. The next level contained the hall used for entertaining guests. In the north and south corners of the hall were small turnpike stairs accessing both round towers. On the middle of the west side was a third tower with the main staircase. This faced into the cobbled courtyard with its wall beside the river Ugie.

A defensive structure was first built at Inverugie by the Cheyne (Le Chen) family in the 12th century. In 1345, at the death of Reginald le Chen, Baron Inverugie, the estate of Inverugie had passed to the Keith Earl Marischals, who had their main seat at the coastal fortress of Dunnottar Castle (via marriage of Edward Keith and the heiress Marjory, daughter of Reginald le Chen and Helen de Strathearn). Around 1660 the Keiths built what is the current, but now ruined, castle, lying south of the original wooden motte.

The Keith lands were forfeited after the Jacobite Rebellion and some time after 1745 the Inverugie estate passed from the Keiths to one James Ferguson the third Laird of Pitfour who kept the building in a perfect state until he died in 1820. However, the fifth Laird stripped the Castle of all the restoration undertaken and his successor exacerbated the neglect even further.

By 1890, the Castle was in poor condition and was unable to withstand inclement weather. Gales in April 1890 resulted in the collapse of some walls and the stair tower. It was declared unsafe by the Local Authority following further storms on New Years Day 1899. The estate factor, William Ainslie, probably acting under instruction from the Laird at that time, arranged to have much of what was left of the ruins blown up, weakening the remaining structure. Within a fortnight, little remained of the castle.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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