The Aberdour Castle is one of the oldest standing castles in Scotland dating back to the 1200s. The castle started its life as a two story tower house built by Sir Alan de Mortimer, who was the first of that family to hold the barony, and through the centuries it was extended several times.
The final addition to the castle was made around the year 1635 by Earl William, who built the Renaissance east wing. Today, it is the only remaining roofed wing of the castle, and the tower has mostly collapsed.
There is a church which still stands next to the castle called St. Fillan’s church built by Mortimer in 1140. Nobody knows what happened to the Mortimer family because there is no records about them. There is a record of another Alan de Mortimer from 1216 in which he granted land to the monks of Inchcolm Abbey.
Later, in the fourteenth century, the castle was granted to Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray who was the kinsman of King Robert the Bruce. In 1342, the barony was granted to Sir William Douglas of Liddesdale by Moray’s grandson.
Starting from the fifteenth century, the Douglas family extended the range of buildings at Aberdour over the following generations. The most interesting addition to the castle is the central range which was built by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton. Today, only fragments of this building remain and it is believed that around 1500 it was constructed as a two-story building with a great hall.
In 1570, Douglas extended this block further south and built more apartments, a vaulted kitchen, and a cellar in the basement. At the southeast corner of the castle, Douglas built a tower with spiral stair which gave access to the upper floors of the central range. Unfortunately, he did not have long to enjoy his creations because he was executed for complicity in the murder of Lord Darnley in 1581.
There are amazing gardens that surround the castle which were also made by James Douglas. Another remarkable house is the sixteenth century doocot which is a pigeon house that contains 600 nesting boxes.
The Castle Sween in Argyll is similar to the Aberdour Castle and it was built at around the same time. Today Aberdour is open to the public and is in the care of Historic Scotland.