Ravenscraig Castle, Aberdeenshire
North West of Inverugie, Peterhead
B road offA90
~ History ~
1181 ~ An early timber castle is built for the Norman de Cheynes, Lords of Buchan.
1185 ~ Ricardus de Chenai witnesses a gift by Hucredus filius Fergus to the Hospital of St Peter of York.
1200 ~ William de Chesne witnesses a charter of King William the Lion.
1230 ~ William le Chen serves the King overseas.
1267 ~ Sir Reginald le Chain is awarded the title of Great Chamberlain of Scotland.
1305 ~ Sir Reginald de Chen petitions King Edward I for two hundred oaks with which to build his manor of Duffus.
1320 ~ Sir Reginald's son and heir, also named Reginald, signes the Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland's Independence.
1350 ~ Sir Reginald le Chain dies and is survived by two daughters. However, as he was renowned as a mighty hunter throughout the land, he longed for a male heir to succeed to his estates, but his wife gave birth to two daughters which Reginald had killed, or at least he thought he had killed.
Years later the childless Sir Reginald sees two beautiful young ladies at a festival. He expresses admiration for them to his wife who finally owns up to her disobedience that they were actually his own daughters. Shocked by this news Sir Reginald Cheyne decides to acknowledged them as his heirs to his lands and Castle of Esslemont, which had become the principal seat of the family through marriage to the heiress of the Marshall of Esslemont.
Marjory, one of the two daughters of Reignald Cheyne marries Nicholas Sutherland, 1st of Duffus, a branch of the Clan Sutherland.
1370 ~ Margaret Chein recieves a charter of the lands of Strathbrook and half of Caithness from King David II.
1402 ~ Clan Keith are attacked and defeated by the rivals Clan Irvine after invading their lands.
1430 ~ Sir William Keith is created Lord Keith.
1464 ~ Clan Keith, assisted by the Clan MacKay attack Clan Gunn and the inhabitants of Caithness who assemble an army and meet the MacKays and Keiths at a place in Caithness called Blair-tannie. A terrible slaughter follows on both sides but in the end the Keiths and MacKays are victorious by the personal feats of John Mor MacIan-Riabhaich of Assynt, who is renouned for both his martial skills and showing his manhood when charging into conflict. Two chieftains and leaders of the inhabitants of Caithness are slain.
1478 ~ A fued between Clan Gunn and Clan Keith culminates in twelve hand picked men of Clan Gunn do battle with twenty four men of Clan Keith. The fights ends when the chief of Clan Gunn is killed. The chief of the Clan Keith is killed soon after by the Gunns in a revenge attack.
1491 ~ The Keith family receive a license to crenellate their holding at Ravenscraig which had previously been held by the de Cheynes. They build a large tower house to secure their hold on their new barony.
1571 ~ Clan Keith join forces with Clan Forbes in their feud against the Clan Gordon. The Forbes are also joined by Clan Fraser and Clan Crichton.
The Gordons are also joined by Clan Leslie, Clan Irvine and Clan Seton. The feud between the Gordons and Forbes which had gone on for centuries culminates in full battle which see's the 6th Lord Forbes’s youngest son known as Black Aurther Forbes killed. Whilst “he stooped down to quench his thirst, one of the Gordons gives him his death blow through an open joint in his armour“.
1589 ~ King James IV visits the castle to celebrate the marriage of the Lairds daughter.
1715 ~ The Keiths forfeited their lands and castles following their support to the Jacobite cause. The castle is soon abandoned.
Ravenscraig Castle has one of the largest tower houses in all of Europe, being some 83 by 73 feet in dimensions with walls up to 11 feet thick. A wide quarried moat provided additional defence.
It is built near to the River Ugie on a site a few miles upstream of Peterhead, not far from Inverugie Castle. The ruin is fenced off and surrounded by thick woodlands, but accessible via a rough footpath that takes you from the roadside where you can park with consideration, towards and along the river towards the woods. Once you are within the woods you will soon see the ruins within the undergrowth. There is plenty of the ruins still to explore with care and you soon discover the scale of the castle that was once quite a formidable fortress.
Sadly and surprisingly there is little history associated with the castle itself, although the two clans connected with Ravenscraig, the de Cheynes and later the Keith's do have both a rich history.