William Sinclair Manson

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Scottish Architecture. / Writings · 19 January 2024

Scottish Architecture. Auldbar Castle.

One home that was arguably grander than most is the Clan’s historic seat of Auldbar Castle in Brechin, Angus, a stately 4-storey tower house originally built for the Crammond family in the 13th century.

Although we know little about its architecture and structure for certain, it is likely that it would have been built to an L-plan, literally in the shape of an L, as was typical for Scottish castles of the time. This allowed for more complex and expansive buildings than the previously popular simple square tower design. What’s more, the L plan allowed the entrance door to be defended, as the adjacent walls provided cover from any outside attack. We’re sure this was a highly desirable feature for the scrappy Youngs!

Pp Aldbar Castle Past

In 1670, Auldbar caught the eye of the ambitious clan, and they decided to sell their land in Easter Seaton in order to purchase it. They remained there until 1743, when a strange tragedy struck.

It is said that the last Young to live at Auldbar was engaged to be married to a young woman from the local village and had fallen deeply in love. The girl was eager to mark the occasion of her wedding with appropriate respect and splendour, so bought a gift to present to the local parish. However, perhaps her excitement somewhat clouded her judgement, as she made the unusual choice of purchasing a mortcloth, a piece of fabric that would ordinarily be draped over the coffin ceremoniously during a funeral. The story goes that the cloth, along with her wedding dress, was sent from Edinburgh to Auldbar, where her husband-to-be received the package. On opening it, Young assumed the worse, presuming his young fiancée to be dead, and fled to a nearby river, throwing himself in as a result of his devastation. On hearing the news of his death, the young woman was also overcome with heartbreak, and committed suicide to escape the shame of her mistake. In the end, the gift she had intended to mark the start of her new married life was used at the tragic joint funeral of the ill-fated couple.

After this grisly event, the Young family supposedly couldn’t bear to stay at Auldbar, so they sold the castle to William Chalmers of Hazlehead, managing to at least keep it somewhat in the family, as William was married to a member of the Young Clan.


Sadly, the castle suffered the same fate as many grand, stately homes following World War II, and was left to descend into ruin and disrepair until it was eventually demolished by a fire in 1965. However, a grave slab from the castle’s chapel dating back to the 1200s is now displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh! We think it is a small blessing that even a tiny fraction of this once great estate remains for the public of today to witness.

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