Aberdour Castle is located in the village of Easter Aberdour. Parts of the castle date from around 1200, making Aberdour one of the two oldest datable standing castles in Scotland, along with Castle Sween in Argyll, which was built at around the same time.

The earliest part of the castle comprised a modest hall house, on a site overlooking the Dour Burn. Over the next 400 years, the castle was successively expanded according to contemporary architectural ideas. The hall house became a tower house in the 15th century, and was extended twice in the 16th century. The final addition was made around 1635, with refined Renaissance details, and the whole was complemented by a walled garden to the east and terraced gardens to the south. The terraces, dating from the mid-16th century, form one of the oldest gardens in Scotland, and offer extensive views across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh.

The castle is largely the creation of the Douglas Earls of Morton, who held Aberdour from the 14th century. The earls used Aberdour as a second home until 1642, when their primary residence, Dalkeith House, was sold. A fire in the late 17th century was followed by some repairs, but in 1725 the family purchased nearby Aberdour House, and the medieval castle was allowed to fall into decay. Today, only the 17th-century wing remains roofed, while the tower has mostly collapsed. Aberdour Castle is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, and is open to the public all year.

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Founded: c. 1200
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gabrielle Hodge (2 years ago)
I grew up in Aberdour so it's always nice to come back. Lovely staff there, Jamie, Patricia and Alison. Lovely castle. Spent a lot of my childhood playing there
Lynn Durie (2 years ago)
Very beautiful. Even in these difficult covid times the staff were very friendly and very helpful. Good knowledge about the castle too. Painted ceiling worth checking out.
Dave Pettie (2 years ago)
Didn't get chance to see much, as was nearly closing time. Staff were very helpful, we went at our own pace to see castle and grounds. Will go again for sure.
Tom Anstruther (2 years ago)
I found this property very interesting, it has an important place in history both in architecture and the people who lived in it. The fact that it's part ruined and part intact adds to the visit. Only downside is parking is a bit limited.
Nan Allan (2 years ago)
Lovely place to visit but you must book ahead online. So much to see there and great views. Very helpful staff.
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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.