For Sale: Two Castles, TLC Required
Lordscairnie Castle – situated on the outskirts of Fife near Moonzie – was built between 1493 and 1498 by Sir Alexander Lindsay, seventh Earl of Crawford. The forlorn ruins are being sold for around £200,000, with selling agent Smiths Gore hoping to find an ‘emotional purchaser’ ready to take on the castle’s challenges.
At the time the castle was built, Sir Lindsay was one of the most powerful noblemen in Scotland, with the castle acting as an important centre for Clan Lindsay’s operations and aspirations in central Scotland. Its colourful history includes castle raids, house arrests, conflicts with the Bishop of St Andrews and a visit by James V of Scotland just before his death in 1542.
The castle was abandoned in the mid 17th Century and was utilised by the local congregation as a church until the end of the 17th Century. Unoccupied since then, ownership was transferred to the Earl of Glasgow in the 1840s, then by a succession of local farmers before it became the property of the existing owner.
According to local lore, treasure was hidden in the castle, but to date nothing of significant value has come to light. The ghost of Sir Lindsay is also said to haunt the castle on New Years Eve. His ghost can be seen playing cards with the devil at midnight on December 31, though anyone watching it will travel to hell with them at the end of the match.
The B listed castle sits in 30 acres of open countryside at the foot of Colluthie Valley. The grounds also include a large pond, said to be home to about 50 different species of birds. The castle walls are 6 feet thick in many places and when restored the castle could be up to five stories tall, rising to a level of 65 feet. Smiths Gore has estimated that restoration would cost £600,000 to £1 million on top of the purchase price.
A slightly more ambitious restoration project is also available for purchase near the Borders. Cavers Castle, once a 64-room 100,000 acre residence, was the seat of Clan Douglas for more than 300 years. Today much of the land has been sold – 11 acres remain – and all that remains of the castle is the east wing, but only as an empty shell.
The castle was constructed around 1200 and first inhabited by the Balliols. Clan Douglas, instrumental in banishing the Balliols from Scotland, were granted the lands by David II of Scotland in 1352. Sir Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas was responsible for the construction of Cavers Tower, a traditional fortified Scottish tower, on the site of the original castle after he succeeded to the earldom when James Douglas fell at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388.
In 1542 Cavers was burnt by Dacre with the help of Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm, and in 1545 it figures in a list of places “brent, raced, and cast doune” during the War of Rough Wooing. Cavers House was inhabited by a branch of the black Douglas family until the twentieth descendent, James Douglas died in 1878 leaving no male heir. The property passed to his niece Mary Malcolm who married Captain Edward Palmer in 1879 and the property was substantially re-modelled as Cavers House between 1881 and 1887.
The house eventually became disused and was made available to the army for use in a demolition by explosives exercise in 1953. The army were partially successful in destroying the Victorian section but made little impact on the thick 11-feet thick walls of the older medieval section.
Cavers Castle on Google Maps – You can see the castle in the woods near Cavers Auld Kirk.
Cavers Tower Flickr Set - Contains fascinating photographs of the castle as it was in 2009. Also contains an interesting story about a witch who cursed the 17th Century Douglases.