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A Brief History of Leslie Castle
The history of Leslie Castle in its present form starts with it’s foundation in 1661. It is one of the last great Baronial Castles to be built in Aberdeenshire in the 1600’s. Unsettled times meant that great houses in Scotland needed to retain some defensive capacity. This meant that fortified homes such as Castle Fraser and Crathes were retained, and new defensive tower houses were built such as Craigievar in the 1630’s and Methven in the 1640’s. The last fortified house to be built was Leslie Castle. Construction began in the 1650’s, for William Forbes of Monymusk whose father had acquired barony through marriage to the widow of his debtor, and thus the property passed from the Leslies to the Forbes.
Where Leslie Castle stands today, in the Parish of Leslie, Garioch, Aberdeenshire was the original site of a “new” Clan, the Leslie Clan. The original structure on the site was a raised mound surrounded by a stockade (probably a wooden motte and bailey). It was replaced in the 14th century by a much stronger edifice of stone. The Castle remained in the Leslie family until 1620 when it passed to the Forbes.
Some 200 years later the Castle fell into disrepair. The last resident of the Castle was captain Stewart who died in 1820, and is buried in the local Leslie cemetery. The Castle lost it’s roof and gradually became a ruin until it was purchased again by a Leslie (architect David Leslie) in 1979.
David Leslie with his wife Leslie Leslie spent 10 years restoring the Castle to the splendid baronial Castle we see today. They then ran the Castle as a private hotel for just over a decade and in 1995 the Castle hosted the Leslie Clan gathering. In the early years of the new millennium the Castle was sold and became a private residence. Subsequently in January of 2018 the Castle changed hands again.
Leslie Castle today is owned by the current Baron of Leslie, who has opened the Castle to welcome guests on a bed and breakfast basis from March/April to October. During it’s first season the Castle welcomed guests from many parts of the world. It proved popular with the Leslie Clan as well as other guests who wish to indulge in the unique experience Scotland has to offer. All 6 rooms may be available outside our opening season on a private hotel basis, subject to availability. The Castle is an ideal venue for family gatherings, anniversaries, birthdays, small weddings or cooperate functions. please contact us to enquire.
Leslie Family History
Clan Leslie are a Lowland Scottish clan. The clan are descended from a Hungarian nobleman named Bartolf or Bartholomew as he was also known. He came over from Hungary in 1067 with Margaret later St Margaret of Scotland. Bartolf was made the Governor of Edinburgh Castle in the 11th century. He married king Malcolm III‘s sister Beatrix and was awarded lands in Fife, Angus and Aberdeenshire.
The clan motto is said to originate with Bartolf when he advised the Queen of Scotland while helping her to cross a river on horseback to “Grip Fast”. The clan crest is the griffin, whilst 3 buckles on the crest are said to have originated when Bartolf had extra buckles added, as a precaution, to his saddle’s girth belt to ensure it held fast, following his river crossing experience with Margaret.