There are the remains of three castles at Huntly. The best preserved is the palatial residence of the Gordon family which was built and then modified during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Also visible on the site is the grass mound from the original motte and bailey castle and the foundations of its successor, a 14th century tower house.
The Peel of Strathbogie was a motte and bailey castle built by Duncan (II), earl of Fife, in the early 13th century. In the 14th century it came into the possession of the Gordon family from Huntly in Berwickshire. Sometime towards the end of the 14th or the beginning of the 15th century they abandoned the old wooden castle and moved into a new stone tower house built on the north side of the bailey.
The power and prestige of the family grew and by the mid 15th century they had acquired the title of earl of Huntly. They constructed a new building on the south side of the bailey to provide better facilities for entertaining their important guests, such as King James IV who was a frequent visitor. In 1506, Alexander, the third earl, received a charter confirming that the name Huntly Castle should be used instead of the old title of Strathbogie.
In 1547, the fourth earl, George, became lord chancellor of Scotland. He completely redeveloped Huntly Castle building a new palace on the south side of the bailey on the foundations of the previous building. In 1594, King James VI blew up the old tower house after the sixth earl of Huntly had rebelled against him and fled to France. Three years later the earl made his peace with the King and was made first marquis of Huntly. He returned to his damaged castle and renovated his palatial residence. The oriel windows and ornate stone carvings date from this period.
During the Civil War Huntly Castle was held periodically by forces from both sides of the conflict after the second marquis of Huntly was beheaded for supporting the king. The castle last saw action during the 1745 Jacobite Rising, but by this time it had already been abandoned as a residence and was falling into ruin.
- In Huntly off the A96
- Huntly Castle, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, AB54 4SH
- Historic Scotland. Open to public. Entrance fee for non-members.
- For further information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
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