Corgarff Castle in the Scottish Highlands, a remote building with long and chequered history

Corgarff Castle, Strathdon, Scottish Highlands

This evening, I am posting information on the remote Corgarff Castle which is located in the Grampian Mountains region of the Scottish Highlands, between Grantown-on-Spey and Braemar.

A brief history of the castle is as follows:
  • Built about 1550, possibly by the Forbeses, a powerful Aberdeenshire family.
  • During November 1571 the castle was raided by Clan Gordon in context of warfare between the two clans. Corgarff Castle was burned resulting in 24 casualties.
  • In 1607 the castle was occupied by a band of outlaws.
  • In 1645 Corgarff was occupied by Royalist forces under the Marquis of Montrose.
  • During 1689-90 was set ablaze by Jacobite forces.
  • Used by the Earl of Mar to launch the 3rd Jacobite uprising in 1715.
  • Occupied by Jacobite forces during the uprising of 1745-6 then by the opposing Redcoats.
  • Converted to Redcoat barracks after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
  • Returned to private hands in 1802 when it was rented by one James McHardy.
  • Re-occupied by the military in 1827 to use as a base for policing illicit whisky production in the Highlands.
  • Finally vacated by the military in 1831 and then progressively fell into decay.
  • Restoration commenced after transfer to Government care in early 1960s.
The architecture essentially comprises the original 16th century Tower House built by the Forbeses surrounded by the later, 18th century, courtyard and star-shaped curtain wall built by the military ( Redcoats).

The name deriveds from coire garbh which translates as 'rough corrie' with corrie meaning a hollow in a Highland hill.

The castle is open to visitors between April and September.

Soldiers’ Dormitory at Corgarff Castle, Scottish Highlands

Landscape view of Corgarff Castle
Corgarff Castle, Strathdon, Scottish Highlands


  1. After 1832 the castle basically became a rural slum accommodating several families of estate workers. My 3xgreat grandparents, William McHardy and Jane Calder, were living there in 1841. My 2xgreat-grandmother, Betsy Stewart McHardy, was born in the castle in 1852. Jane Calder was still living there when she died in 1886. I understand two sister by the name of Ross were still living in the guard house in the early years of the 20th Century. In the 1861 Census a total of 7 families were resident between the castle and the guard house. (Malcolm Cunning)


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