Red Castle, Angus
Red Castle above the Lunan Water
The house was built in the Middle Ages and fell prey to the wild history of that age, finally succumbing to fire during a family feud in the sixteenth century.
The earliest structure on the site was built for King William the Lion in the late twelfth century to repel Viking invasions to Lunan Bay. Evidence shows, however, that William took up residence there on several occasions whilst on hunting expeditions. In 1194, William conferred the castle, and land surrounding the village of Inverkeilor, a mile to the east of the castle, to Walter de Berkely, the Royal Chamberlain. On de Berkley's death, his lands of Inverkeilor, with the castle, passed to Ingram de Balliol who had married the heiress of Walter. Ingram de Balliol rebuilt the castle and the property remained in that family for two generations. When his grandson, also Ingram, who flourished between 1280-84, died childless about 1305 the property passed to the son of Constance de Baliol, Henry de Fishburn.
After Robert the Bruce gained the Crown and vanquished the Balliol family, the property was forfeit and in 1328, King Robert gave the castle to the Aodh, Earl of Ross. The castle is referred to as rubeum castrum (Latin for Red Castle) in deeds of 1286, referring to its burnished red sandstone, typical of this area.
In 1579, James, son of Lord Gray, married Lady Elizabeth Beaton, who owned the castle, but he fell in love with her daughter. After Lady Beaton threw him out, Gray (with his brother Andrew of Dunninald) laid siege to the castle for two years, ultimately burning the inhabitants out. From then on the castle slipped into decline, and, although it remained partially roofed until 1770. It was never again a residence of nobility. The last inhabitant of the castle was the minister of Inverkeilor, one James Rait.
Red Castle stands on high ground overlooking Lunan Bay, on the North Sea coast. Immediately to the north of Red Castle is the mouth of the Lunan Water, with the hamlet of Lunan beyond. Only a part of the fifteenth century rectangular tower, and the six-foot thick east curtain wall remain. The tower in particular is in precipitous condition, being perched on the edge of the hill above Lunan Bay, and was described as being "in imminent danger of collapse" in 1999.
The castle is clearly visible from the A92 road. The remains are those of the 15th-century keep, and the surrounding wall, or enceinte, which may date from the 13th century. A midden below the castle is continually eroding, yielding a number of artefacts now in the Montrose Museum. The tower and enceinte are both protected as category A listed buildings.
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- Duchess of Cleveland, The Battle Abbey Roll with some account of the Norman Lineages, v.1, p. 253.
- CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Red Castle, Site Number NO65SE 10.00
- "Red Castle - Keep, Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. http://hsewsf.sedsh.gov.uk/hslive/hsstart?P_HBNUM=11274. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- "Red Castle - Enceinte, Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. http://hsewsf.sedsh.gov.uk/hslive/hsstart?P_HBNUM=11273. Retrieved 2009-09-14.