Fetteresso Castle

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Fetteresso Castle


Fetteresso Castle.jpg
Fetteresso Castle
Type: Country mansion
Location: 56°57’37"N, 2°15’37"W
Condition: Good

Fetteresso Castle is Gothic style Palladian manor house in Kincardineshire. The current mansion was rebuilt in 1761 from a 14th-century tower house, and there is clear evidence of prehistoric use of the site.

The castle stands immediately west of the county town, Stonehaven, slightly to the west of the A90 dual carriageway. Other notable historic fortified houses or castles in this region are Dunnottar Castle, Muchalls Castle, Fiddes Castle, Cowie Castle and Monboddo House, built in unquiet times to guard the strategic pinch point where the mountains of the Mounth run down to the sea coast.


From cropmarks in the policies of Fetteresso Castle, there is evidence of a ring-ditch sited at the north end of a cursus. A cursus is a prehistoric set of parallel linear structures of unknown purpose that were, somewhat fancifully, considered by antiquarians as used for some type of athletic competition, possibly related to hunting or archery; this is unsubstantiated. In 1822 a cairn was discovered near Fetteresso Castle with some human remains inside. The burial site was clearly a Bronze Age construct by the size and shape of the chamber made of unhewn whinstone. Some legends tell that this is the grave of King Malcolm I, who is recorded to have been slain at Fetteresso in 954 AD. The burial hillock has become known as Malcolm's Mount, even though it is not likely, according to current archaeological analysis, that the crypt could be so recent. In 1998 a burial urn from the beaker people was found at Fetteresso Castle.

The Roman Camp of Raedykes is located several miles northwest, where a full legion encamped and many archaeological recoveries have been made. This location is one of a string of marching camps that connected Angus to Moray.

Middle Ages

The property is recorded to have been owned by the Strachans, but passed by marriage in the 14th century to the Clan Keith Earls Marischal, who built the towerhouse. The Earls Marischal also held a nearby fortress, the spectacularly sited Dunnottar Castle.

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

In this era the characteristic Scottish designs of crow-stepped gables were introduced, and the battlement crenellation elements were introduced. A dovecote of considerable height was constructed in the seventeenth century to the south of the castle itself. In the year 1659 a woman named Jean Hunter lived at Fetteresso. From her behaviours she was accused of witchcraft and hanged at her home. An artist and wright named Alexander Charles worked at Fetteresso as an overseer. Charles flourished in the period 1671-1678 and published his drawings in at least one book. Late in the 17th century the Duff family controlled Fetteresso and expanded the building around the old towerhouse.

Twentieth century

In the 1940s the castle was owned by Maurice and Geraldine Simpson (née Pringle). Mrs. Simpson was the heir to the Pringle Knitware fortune. Subsequently the Simpsons acquired and lived in nearby Muchalls Castle. After the Simpsons' tenure at Fetteresso, the roof was off the castle for some period starting around 1954 then the castle bought by a local land owner and then left to the Don family in his will. In the latter part of the 20th century the castle was restored with great interior modification to yield seven houses, which is its present use. As of 2006 Mrs Simpson still resides in the local area.



  • C.Michael Hogan. 2008. Fetteresso Fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian
  • Benjamin T Hudson: Prophecy of Berchan: Irish and Scottish Kings of the Early Middle Ages, (1996) ISBN 0-313-29567-0
  • Scottish Notes and Queries 1899-1900, edited by John Bullock, A. Brown and Company, Aberdeen
  • Historical Geography of the Clans of Scotland
  • Primitive Beliefs in the Northeast of Scotland