Red Castle

Red Castle, Angus

~ History ~

1180's ~ A castle is built for King William the Lion to repel Viking invasions to Lunan Bay. William takes up residence at the castle on several occasions whilst on hunting expeditions.

1194 ~ William grants the castle, and land surrounding the village to Walter de Berkely, his Royal Chamberlain. On his death, his lands including Red Castle, pass to Ingram de Balliol who has married the heiress of Walter. Ingram rebuilds the castle on a much grander scale in stone.

1305 ~ The de Baliol line ends and so the castle passes to the son of Constance de Baliol, Henry de Fishburn.

1328 ~ The castle is declared forfeit property was forfeit by Robert the Bruce who grants it to the Earl of Ross.

1367 ~ The castle is sold to Robert Stewart.

1400's ~ The Stewart family build a tower house within the castle.

1545 ~ The castle is owned by the unpopular Cardinal David Beaton due to many blaming him for the English invasion of Scotland whilst he worked on preserving the Auld alliance with France which many felt led to King Henry VIII of England giving orders to force English interests.

Beaton, as Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Archbishop of Scotland and Cardinal Legate in Scotland, arranges for the arrest, trial and execution of Protestant preacher George Wishart.

1546 ~ George Wishart is strangled and afterwards burned. Wishart has many sympathisers.

Plots against Cardinal Beaton had begun circulating for some years prior to the execution of George Wishart. The conspirators are led by Norman Leslie, master of Rothes, and William Kirkcaldy of Grange. The Leslies had previously suffered from the expansion of Beaton's interests in Fife. Kirkcaldy's uncle, James Kirkcaldy of Grange, held Protestant sympathies and had been removed three years earlier as treasurer of the realm, through Beaton's influence.

They are joined by John Leslie of Parkhill, one of the Fife lairds angered at the execution of Wishart. Leslie and Kirkcaldy manage to obtain admission to St Andrews Castle, killing the porter in the process. They then murder the Cardinal, mutilating this corpse and hanging it from a castle window.

1579 ~ James, son of Lord Gray, marries Lady Elizabeth Beaton, who owns the castle. He however falls in love with her daughter. After Lady Beaton throws him out, Gray together with his brother Andrew, lay siege to the castle over the next two years, ultimately burning the inhabitants out. From then on the castle slips into decline, and, although it remains partially roofed for the next two hundred years, is never again a residence of nobility.

1586 ~ James, now an outlaw due to his crimes at Red Castle, is killed in a brawl in Dundee.

1760's ~ Reverend James Rait is the last occupant of Red Castle. Its neglected walls and roof finally giving way and so into ruin.


Lunan, Arbroath


Craig Road, Off A92


DD11 5ST

Red Castle can be found on one of the most beautiful locations of any castle in Scotland. It stands high on a bluff on the south side of the River Lunan, which loops behinds sand dunes before emptying into the North Sea, along the broad sweep of Lunan Bay, one of Scotland's very best beaches.

Lunan Bay can be reached via minor roads that follow the coast and can be accessed from a parking area behind the dunes at Lunan, some four miles south of Montrose. However, the best (and driest) approach to the castle is inland, where a small and misable footpath off a b-road heads steeply uphill to the castle. There is limited parking apposite the footpath, so park with care and consideration.

The views from the castle along the bay are terrific and there is remains on part of the curtain wall and tower to explore.