Delgatie Castle is a 16th Century L-plan castle situated 2 miles east of Turriff. A castle has stood on this site since 1030. Since then it has seen Mary, Queen of Scots, been held by two rebellious families and been rebuilt and extensively renovated.
The first castle on this site was owned by the Comyn Earls of Buchan. It came into the possession of William Comyn when he married Marjory, Countess of Buchan in 1212.
The Comyn family were great rivals of the Bruce family. In 1308 the Battle of Barra took place near Inverurie. Though part of the Wars of Independence, this battle was purely an internal struggle for power between the Comyns and the Bruces.
The Comyns lost and John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch was exiled to England and his lands were forfeit to the Scottish Crown.
Robert the Bruce gave Delgatie Castle, among other estates, to Clan Hay after their loyalty and military service at the Battle of Bannockburn.
The Hays were a powerful family in the area for generations. In 1453 Sir William Hay, the clan chief, was made Earl of Erroll by King James II. During the Reformation the Hays were staunch Catholics and supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary stayed briefly at Delgatie in 1562 and visitors today can view the room she stayed in.
Delgatie Castle was largely rebuilt around 1570-80 and it is this castle that we see today. The keep is an L-plan castle with very thick walls. An unusually wide turnpike stair runs up inside the walls right the way to the battlements at the top.
In the 18th Century two new wings were added to the structure. A chapel and dovecot were added to the west and kitchens and servants quarters were placed on the east side.
By the turn of the 20th Century the castle was in a state of disrepair. Dry rot had infected the timbers and stonework. Part of the roof had gone and water was allowed to seep into the walls.
Delgatie Castle was used by the army as a temporary barracks during the Second World War. When they left it was uninhabited and left to rot.
Captain Hay of Delgatie bought the castle and set about its restoration – despite his architect’s advice that it was beyond repair. His determination to restore the castle and built the Clan Hay Centre has left us with the showpiece restoration we see today.
Inside, the castle has been restored to a high standard. In fact some of the rooms still have their superb 16th Century painted ceilings on display. The castle has also been awarded a four star visitor attraction grading.
The castle is owned by the Delgatie Castle Trust – a small charitable trust staffed entirely by volunteers - and is home to the Clan Hay Centre.
Visitors to the castle can tour the castle and grounds. Facilities available include the Laird’s Kitchen Tearoom and information boards; many of which were written by Captain Hay himself. The trust provides self-catering accommodation within Delgatie Castle and in cottages on the estate. They can also cater for wedding parties and the estate is home to a popular trout fishery.
Status: Visitor Attraction / Heritage Centre
Owner: Delgatie Castle Trust
Tel: +44 (0)1888 563 479
Opening Times: Daily 10am to 5pm, except two weeks at Christmas and New Year
Delgatie Castle, chapel and doocot
Delgatie Castle and 17th Century wing