Towie Barclay Castle, Aberdeenshire – Clan Barclay
Situated in the heart of the Aberdeenshire countryside, Towie Barclay Castle is a 16th-century clan seat which previously served as the ancestral home of the Scottish Barclay family.
Thought to have been completed in 1593, the building was originally occupied by the ‘Tollie de Berkley’ family who had been living in the area since it was given to them in the 11th century by Malcolm III.
However, despite living there for so long, it appears the clan never settled in the region as, even after constructing a castle there and occupying it for another 200 years, the family were always spooked by a curse which was said to have been cast against them in response to a raid on a nunnery in the 12th century. According to legend, the curse was created by Thomas the Rhymer, a Scottish laird, who claimed that the male line of the family would be cursed if they stayed on their lands in Aberdeenshire. This curse is said to have been one of the main reasons why the family would eventually sell the castle in 1753 as it passed to the Earl of Findlater, whose son is said to have been affected by the curse as he passed away shortly after the sale.
For this reason, the Earl himself would soon sell the castle to the governors of Robert Gordon’s hospital in Aberdeen for £21,000 in 1792, a sale that would ultimately lead to its demise as it suffered from abandonment and fell into a state of disrepair.
The castle would continue to decay until the 1970s when it was finally rescued by the musician Marc Ellington and his wife, Karen. The couple would then spend the next 7 years restoring the castle with Karen becoming the project manager of the build and Ellington’s music career funding the necessary improvements. Today, the castle remains under the family’s ownership and is split into two levels; a more modern upper level and a historic lower level which contains the building’s original sixteenth-century masonry.