Edzell Castle is a substantial ruinous old stronghold of the Lindsay family with a fabulous colourful walled garden with unique carved panels, as well as the cozy summer house and bath house, in a pretty peaceful wooded spot near the village of Edzell north of Brechin.
Angus & Dundee: About 6 miles north of Brechin, on minor roads west of B966 at Edzell village, about 0.3 miles north of West Water, at Edzell Castle.
HES NO 585693 OS: 44 DD9 7UE
OPEN: Open Apr-Sep, daily 9.30-17.30; last entry 30 mins before closing.
Tel: 01356 648631 Web: www.historicenvironment.scot
A large and impressive building, Edzell Castle consists of an early 16th-century tower house, later enlarged and extended with ranges of buildings around a courtyard. A large pleasance, or garden, was created in 1604, and was enclosed by an ornamental wall, to which a summerhouse and a bath-house were added. The fine carved decoration of the garden walls is unique.
The L-plan tower, at one corner of the main courtyard, replaced an older castle. It rises to four storeys and a garret, and has corbelled-out open rounds at all corners and small projecting half-rounds at the centre of each wall. The parapet was removed after a storm in the 19th century.
The entrance, reached through an arched doorway from the courtyard, is in the re-entrant angle. It leads to the vaulted basement, one cellar having a small stair to the hall on the first floor
above. The hall has two fireplaces and the upper floors were reached by a wide stair.
An L-shaped gabled range of three storeys was added in the late 16th century. This is very ruinous, but once contained many comfortable chambers.
The pleasance is large and surrounded by a wall, which is adorned by carved panels depicting the Seven Cardinal Virtues, Seven Liberal Arts and the Seven Planetary Deities. The garden was laid out in its present form in the 1930s. The summerhouse is a rectangular two-storey building with its own stair tower, gunloop and bartizan. The basement is vaulted.
‘Edgell’ is marked on Pont’s map of North Esk, and is depicted as a tower of four storeys in a courtyard.
The lands passed by marriage from the Stirlings of Glenesk to the Lindsay Earls of Crawford in 1357. The castle replaced the nearby motte [NO 584688] near the old churchyard (see below). Mary, Queen of Scots, held a Privy Council meeting at Edzell in 1562, and stayed in the castle. Sir David Lindsay of Edzell is mentioned in the 1590s and later. James VI visited in 1580 and 1589. In 1607 Alexander Lindsay, Lord Spynie, was slain in Edinburgh by David Lindsay, son of the laird, during a dispute bewteen Edzell and David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford.
John Lindsay of Edzell was in possession in the 1640s, and Cromwell garrisoned the castle in 1651. During the Royalist uprising of 1653, John Lindsay was kidnapped from Edzell, but he was rescued by Cromwell’s forces. David Lindsay of Edzell is mentioned in the 1680s and later.
The Lindsays had to sell the property in 1715, because of huge debts, and it was bought by the Maule Earl of Panmure. The Maules were forfeited for their part in the Jacobite Rising of that year, and the castle was garrisoned by government troops, who did much damage. The Maules recovered Edzell in 1764, but the castle was abandoned.
In and around the castle can be seen bats, barn owls and red squirrels.
One story associated with the castle is that the one of the Lindsays lairds was cursed by a gypsy woman, after he had hanged her sons for poaching. The tales goes that his pregnant wife died that day, while he himself was devoured by wolves – as foretold.
The castle is said to be haunted by a ‘White Lady’, reputedly the spirit of Catherine Campbell, second wife of David Lindsay, 9th Earl of Crawford. She died in 1578, but is said to have been interred alive in the Lindsay burial aisle [NO 583687] at Edzell Old Church. She eventually regained consciousness when a sextant tried to steal her jewellery, but died of exposure at the castle gates (although it is also reported that she lived for some time after the events). It is also said that he ghosts haunts the Lindsay burial aisle. This has been a Christian site since the 9th century, and a church was here from the 14th century or earlier. There are many interesting old memorials. More info.
There is also the remains of a motte and bailey castle by the graveyard, the predecessor of Edzell Castle. Vaulted chambers were removed in the late 18th century, and a pit here is said to have been used for executing criminals, although it has gone.