Sites and Monument Record: Castlecary Castle (SMR 149)

The late 15th century towerhouse at Castlecary is situated on the east bank of the ravine of the Red Burn, which here forms the boundary of East Stirlingshire. There were two major phases of building - the 15th century tower and a 17th century house.
The oblong tower is aligned roughly W/E and measures about 34 feet by 22 feet 9 inches, and 42 feet to the top of the battlements. It seems that it was originally L-shaped in plan, but that the north wing or jamb was demolished - only the tusking surviving. The remaining tower consists of three storeys and an attic. It is built in roughly coursed rubble with dressed quoins and margins. The original openings have chamfered arises. The masonry incorporates a large number of dressed blocks with diamond broaching and some with bossing, which are characteristic of Roman work, indicating that the stones were brought from the fort on the Antonine Wall a little to the north.
The entrance door, which is now built up, was in the north-west corner, where also the staircase is situated, having a square projection to contain it fitted into the interior. This stair leads to the three upper floors, the attics, and battlement, where it is finished with a caphouse having a high pitched roof. The ground floor is vaulted, and was lighted by a slit 4 inches wide towards the courtyard. The window on the opposite side is not original. Remains of a later enclosing courtyard wall, 3 feet 9 inches thick, extend northwards 44 feet 6 inches down the slope.
A two-storey building was added to the east in 1697, extending 30 feet 6 inches in length by about 19 feet 9 inches wide, with a 10 feet 6 inches square projection into the courtyard at the junction of the old and new works, containing a new entrance and staircase serving the whole edifice. This addition comprised, on the ground floor, a kitchen with offices, and a room above. There seems also to have been an attic with dormer windows rising into the roof; the lower part of these windows, now built up. There is nothing of special interest inside the house, which is still inhabited. Over the doorway of the addition is the date 1679, and inside there is an iron yett, which presumably belonged to the original keep, the outer doorways being only 2 inches different in width.
A further range of outbuildings to the east was added in the late 18th or early 19th century.
The tower-house was apparently built to replace an earlier castle by Henry Livingstone of Myddilbynning, West Lothian, shortly before the year 1485. The property was held by the Livingstones of Dunipace in the 16th century and in the first half of the 17th century . By the end of the 17th century it was in the possession of the Baillie family, from whom it passed to the Dundases by the marriage of Thomas Dundas of Fingask to Bethia, daughter of John Baillie of Castlecary in 1730. The Marquess of Zetland, a descendant of this marriage, sold it to Doreen Hunter in the 1960s.
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Object detail

Site status
Site conservation date
15th Century
Site grid ref
NS 7866 7751
Conservation status


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