Edzell Castle

Mary, Queen of Scots Home Page

Broad view of Edzell Castle with its summer house, walled garden, tower house and later ranges
Edzell Castle was built by the Lindsay Earls of Crawford and consists of a 16th century tower house and later ranges. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here on the nights of 23rd and 24th August 1562 during her first progress to the north of Scotland. Like so many other castles, this peaceful setting hides a tumultuous past with the property changing hands a number of times. The Lindsays ran into debt and sold it to Maule, Earl of Panmure in 1715. But the Maules were forfeited for their part in the Jacobite Rising and Edzell Castle was subsequently garrisoned and much damaged by Hanoverian troops. The Maules recovered the castle in 1764 but it was then abandoned, reclaimed by the Earl of Dalhousie before ending into state care in the 1930s.
Tower house with later West Range Tower house with West & North ranges to the right and walled garden in front
It is in this tower that Mary held a meeting of the Privy Council on 25th August 1562, attended by the Earls of Mar, Marischal and Morton, and Maitland of Lethington. The four-storey high tower is the earliest part of the castle and replaces a former earth and timber construction. The West Range to the right of it was added around 1553 by David Lindsay, ninth Earl of Crawford to provide a new kitchen and storage facilities on the ground floor, and more modern family accommodation upstairs. The North Range was added a generation later and contained a greater kitchen and more sumptuous entertaining hall than the Tower's. Click here to see a sketch of the courtyard as it may have looked at the time.
Besides the North Range, Mary would not have seen the beautiful walled garden added in 1604 and known as the "Pleasance". It is the only one of its kind in Scotland, and was intended by its creator, the tenth Earl, to challenge both mind and senses. It is reminiscent of the layout of the gardens of the French chteaux. The flower pattern displays the family motto "Dum Spiro Spero" (While I breathe I hope) and "Endure Forte" (Endure Courageously). The walls were divided into bays by square shafts. Within the bays were recesses for heraldic groupings of flowers and carved panels. Holes were provided for nesting boxes for singing birds. The carved panels on the west side represent the opposites of the seven deadly sins, the Cardinal Virtues; those on the east side depict the Planetary Deities, and those on the south side the Liberal Arts. The present formal plantation was evolved between 1932 and 1938.
In the south east corner of the garden is a little summer house which was remodelled in the 19th century. A 16th century oak panelling depicting biblical scene and which formerly decorated the walls of the castle, can be seen inside.
Inside the Summer House Oak panelling in the Summer House
One of the stories surrounding Edzell Castle is that of the curse of the Gypsy woman. Apparently, one of the Lindsay lairds was cursed for having the son of a Gypsy woman hanged for poaching. The same day, the pregnant laird's wife died, while he was devoured by wolves as foretold.

Open daily all year except Thursdays pm and Fridays from October to March. Tel.: 44+ (0)1356 648 631.

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