Findlater Castle

Findlater Castle, Aberdeenshire


~ History ~

1260 ~ King Alexander III strengthens the ancient fortified site as part of his preparations for an expected invasion by King Håkon IV of Norway. Though this invasion concludes in a stalemate and ultimate failure for Håkon at the Battle of Largs, his Norse forces occupy Findlater.

1342 ~ Geoffrey de Findlater, hereditary sheriff of Banff dies. He is succeeded by an heiress, who later marries Richard Sinclair, a younger son of the Lord of Roslin.

1411 ~ The last Sinclair owner of Findlater, Sir John Sinclair, dies at the Battle of Harlow. It later passes into the hands of Sir Walter Ogilvy.

1455 ~ King James II grants a license to Sir Walter Ogilvie of Deskford to fortify the site.

1560 ~ Alexander Ogilvy disinherits his son, James Ogilvy, in favour of Sir John Gordon.

1562 ~ The Gordon's occupy Findlater but following the clan's rebellion against Mary Queen of Scots and subsequent defeat at The Battle of Corrichie, the Gordon's are forced to surrender the castle back to the Ogilvies.

The battle takes place near Aberdeen between the forces of George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly, chief of Clan Gordon against the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots under James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray.

Huntly had previously defeated the English twenty years earlier at the Battle of Haddon Rig, however at Corrichie he is defeated by Queen Mary's forces, and dies of apoplexy following his capture. Mary Queen of Scots had come in person to the north of Scotland intent on confronting the power of the Gordons. At Corrichie, the Gordon's tactic of charging with swords is defeated by Moray's forces using their long pikes.

1638 ~ James Ogilvy is created Earl of Findlater. This rise in status prompts the abandonment of the medieval castle for a more luxurious seat at Cullen, leaving Findlater to fall into ruin.


Portsoy, Banff


Minor roads off A98


AB45 2UD

Findlater Castle is located in the most dramatic of locations, built into the rocky promontory that juts out into the sea. It is an ancient site that retains a somewhat forbidding feel to it from its commanding impregnable position.

The name Findlater comes from the Gaelic "Fionn Leitir", meaning white cliff. It is pronounced Fin d latter.

The castle is approached by a farm track from a small car park where you can see a ruinous dovecot which signposts the way. At the end of the short walk as you approach the cliff edge, the castle suddenly and spectacularly comes into view.

There is a path that takes you down to the small bay and also to the castle itself. Both should be taken with care. You can explore the castle itself but would recommend that you don't venture down into the lower levels that are both dark and dangerous.

A fantastic ruin to explore with care.