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Tillycairn Castle

Tillycairn Castle is a very well preserved 16th Century tower house that today is a private residence.  Built of granite walls which are harled externally in traditional style with dressings of Corennie granite to windows etc, under a Scotch slate roof. The roof line has fine turrets on each corner and a flat promenade area giving splendid views over the surrounding countryside.

It is a Grade A listed property, reflecting its architectural and historical importance. Tillycairn is laid out over five floors reached by a spiral stone stair with a private servants stair.




A wonderful example of a Scottish Tower House, albeit with limited recorded history. It was however owned by two important Clans, the Forbes and the Lumsden's, who both played a very important role in Scottish history.

The lands of Tillycairn were the marriage portion of Annabel Forbes, daughter of the 6th Lord Forbes, on her marriage in 1540 to Matthew Lumsden. Matthew built Tillycairn Castle and further strengthened the fortifications of the castle following its pillage by John Strachan of Lynturk in June 1542. Further alterations and the addition of battlements were made by John Lumsden, 2nd Laird of Tillycairn, following his father's death in 1580. The castle as altered by John of Tillycairn survived until about 1722 when it was described as being derelict. In 1980 David Lumsden (XIX) of Cushnie and a family descendant of Matthew Lumsden, began the daunting task of rebuilding and renovating the castle which had been an uninhabited and roofless ruin for some 260 years. The property as it exists today is the result of a two year rebuilding programme and has faithfully recreated John Lumsden's castle of the 16th Century, but at the same time incorporating all modern facilities, but in a manner fully consistent with the castle's original design.

Tillycairn Castle

1098 ~ King Edgar of Scotland grants lands to the brothers Gillem and Cren Lumsden.


1271 ~ Clan Forbes, long established in Aberdeenshire on the banks of the river Don,are raised to a barony by King Alexander III.


1296 ~ Many Scottish nobles and clan leaders are forced to pay homage to Englands King Edward I by signing the Ragman Rolls. Adam and Rogier Lumsden's signatures are included in the Roll, alongside many other nobles including John Forbes.


1444 ~ Tillycairn is granted by Alexander, the Lord Gordon, to James Forbes.


1540 ~ The lands of Tillycairn are the marriage portion of Annabel Forbes, daughter of the 6th Lord Forbes, on her marriage to Matthew Lumsden.

Matthew builds Tillycairn Castle.


1542 ~  Following the castle being pillaged by John Strachan, Matthew Lumsden    strengthens the defences of the castle.


1548 ~ The Queen Regent grants the Lumsden's lands formerly belonging to John Strachan in recompense for the damage done during the raid six years earlier.


1580 ~  Further alterations with the addition of battlements are made by John Lumsden, 2nd Laird of Tillycairn, following his father's death.


1618 ~ Clan Lumsden fights in the "Thirty Years War" fight for the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus. Their unit is known as the "Lumsden Musketeers".


1644 ~ The Lumsden's fight at the Battle of Marston Moor under Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, in defeating King Charles I Royalist army.


1650 ~ Clan Lumsden return to action against Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar under David Leslie, but this time are defeated,


1651 ~ The Royalist Govenor of Dundee, Robert Lumsden organises the defence of the City of Dundee against  the Parliamentary forces of General Monck. The siege last six weeks until the a boy climbs over the dilapidated town walls and innocently gives Monck the information that the guards are in the ale-house for breakfast and by lunchtime are drunk.


Following the eventual surrender of the City in the kirk, an un-named English commander makes the decision to shoot Robert Lumsden and gives the order for his decapitated head, still in its helmet, to be placed on a spike on the south-west corner of the Kirk. A brutal assault of the city with three days of looting and mass murder only ends when General Monck himself comes across a suckling infant at the breast of his dead mother. During the nine year occupation the treasures of the town are placed on 50 ships for export to England.


1722 ~  The castle is recorded as  being derelict.


1745 ~ The Chief of Clan Lumsden is secretary to Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite Rebellion.


1746 ~ Following the disasterous defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Culloden the Lumsden chief flees to Rome.


1773 ~ On the return of the Lumsden chief to Scotland the British Government pardon him for his role in the uprising.

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