Esslemont Castle

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Esslemont Castle
Near Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
grid reference NJ932297
Esslemont Castle exterior
Esslemont Castle is located in Scotland
Esslemont Castle
Esslemont Castle
Coordinates57°21′29″N 2°06′51″W / 57.3581°N 2.1141°W / 57.3581; -2.1141
TypeTower house and moat
Site information
Controlled bylastly Clan Gordon
Open to
the public
Site history
Builtmid 14th century-1570
Built byvarious, notably Henry Cheyne
In useUntil 1769

Esslemont Castle is a ruined tower house in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is located on the A920 west of Ellon and is designated a scheduled ancient monument.[1]


The first mention of Esslemont is as the 'manor of Eislemont' in the 14th century.

The lands of Esslemont were passed by marriage from the family of Mareschal by marriage of the heiress Janet to Francis le Chen of Straloch in the 14th century. After the castle was burnt in 1493, Henry Cheyne undertook re-building via a king's licence dated 1500. In 1564 Patrick Cheyne was created baron of Esslemont by Queen Mary, who stayed here during her campaign against the Earl of Huntly, and a fortalice and tower were recorded in 1575–6.[2]

The castle was then destroyed as the result of a feud between the Cheynes and the Hays. The name of the lands, now as "Essilmounthe", appears in Scottish records in 1609.

The castle ceased to be regularly occupied in 1625, when the estate passed to the Errol family. In 1728 it became the property of Robert Gordon and may have been partially occupied till 1769, when the existing mansion, Esslemont House, was erected in its vicinity.[3]


In 1938 excavations within the enclosure revealed the lower courses of the earlier castle, a massive, L-shaped towerhouse with walls 6–7 feet (1.8–2.1 m) thick and 6 feet (1.8 m) maximum height. There had been a curtain wall 4 feet (1.2 m) thick. The surrounding ditch may date from the 14th century. Finds from the excavation included 14/15th century potsherds, a medallion, and a worn shilling of William III.[4]

The castle interior

The castle today[edit]

The castle is roofless and missing large sections of wall which were reused in building sites nearby. Especially noticeable are the missing dressed stones of the windows.[5] The structure is a L Plan castle with a staircase turret and a round tower at the south east angle. The main building seems on the ground floor to have contained the kitchen, with a wide fireplace in the north gable; the rugged edges of the ruined sides of the flue being visible high up in the gable.[6] Though ruined, the remains are clearly on three stories. The Gordon Arms are visible on the exterior of the castle.

Gordon Arms on Esslemont Castle

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Esslemont Castle (SM3400)". Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. ^ Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum: The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, AD 1546–1580. Vol. 4. J.M. Thomson: Edinburgh, 1984. Page 681.
  3. ^ Ian Shepherd. Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie — An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Rutland Press: Edinburgh, 2006.
  4. ^ W.D. Simpson. 'The excavation of Esslemont Castle, Aberdeenshire' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 78 (1944), 100–105.
  5. ^ David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross. Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland From the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century. George Waterston & Sons: Edinburgh, 1889. Page 603.
  6. ^ David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross. Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland From the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century. George Waterston & Sons: Edinburgh, 1889. Page 604.