Today’s castle might not be considered a showstopper by some, but this ruin is one of my favorites. This is Corse Castle.
Corse Castle sits alongside a minor road (well, less than a minor road, really), off of the B9119, near the village of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In fact, if you didn’t know it was there, you might well miss it! Formerly a medieval tower house, this sixteenth-century castle is now a lonely roofless ruin, surrounded by deep overgrowth.
There is no designated parking at the site, which is privately owned. I remember just pulling our car as far off the road as we could. Under Scotland’s “Freedom to Roam” code, you may venture onto private property as long as you behave responsibly. Once parked, you’ll have to walk up a slight embankment and wade through the weeds. It probably sounds like a lot of work, but personally, I think that’s half the fun!
William Forbes built Corse Castle as a defensive residence in 1581 after thieves raided his lands. He supposedly stated, “If God spares my life, I shall build a house on which thieves shall knock ere they enter.” Perhaps his wish didn’t come true, because, in 1638, Corse Castle was raided by Highlanders who carried off the lord’s son for ransom.
The structure was built rather unusually in that it combined aspects of both an “L” plan and a “Z” plan into one unique design. If you are a nerd like me, you might be interested in this description of the design, from Historic Environment Scotland:
“The long elevations of the L-shape lie S and W with a round tower projecting from the NW angle. A stair turret projecting from the centre of the S wall would have served as a watch tower. The entrance which has an inscribed lintel is in the re-entrant angle of the N wall. Above this are two blank panels with mouldings, a square one beneath an ogee shaped one. Although the internal arrangements have been destroyed it appears that the SW portion contained a vaulted cellar. The hall was probably on the first floor in the SW portion of the castle. The S part of the castle has had four storeys and a garret above a partly vaulted ground floor. Several fire-places in the E wall of the E wing indicate the location of private chambers. Defence was a necessity judging by the bar holes on windows, numerous shot holes, some with lozenge patterns protecting the entrance and the S stair turret.”
“These relatively small scale castles, particularly well represented in Aberdeenshire, were the fortified homes of the minor aristocracy, regionally powerful landowners, and successful merchants. As such they differ in function and design from the larger castles of the royal and political class, the need being both for family comfort and security.” –Aberdeenshire Council
Above the stone doorway to the castle, there is a stone carving that bears the initials WF for William Forbes, the date 1581, and the initials ES, for his wife, Elizabeth Strachan.
I love that even though Corse is extremely ruined, you can still see these well-preserved, beautiful architectural details.
Corse Castle might not have the ‘wow’ factor that attracts most tourists, but to me, this one was pretty fantastic. If castles are your thing, add it to your list.
Well, I promised I’d get an article published this week and ‘phew’! Just got it in under the wire. I hope you all have a terrific weekend! See you soon.