Moray had a large local population in the Stone and Bronze Ages, although the region’s more tangible history kicks off in the 4th century, when the Picts occupied the area.
It spent several hundred years under Pictish rule until Kenneth I united the region with the lands of the Scots in the 9th century, and after several bloody battles against Vikings, the ancient province subsequently provided two 11th-century kings (including Macbeth) to the Scottish throne.
Later, Robert the Bruce designated the county of Moray as an earldom, gifting it to his nephew in the early 14th century.
The rippling unrest of the English Civil Wars saw many castles built and sacked as well as local villages decimated, but by the 1700s, the Scottish Enlightenment witnessed a rise in living standards, with new harbours and fertile farmland.
The Highland Clearances had their own impact on the region, with many displaced locals emigrating across the Atlantic.
Below we have compiled a few of our favourite historic sites that can easily be visited during your stay with us at Isla Bank House. Please use the links provided for more information and to check that sites are accessible at the time you want to visit.
Trek up to the lonely ruin and surrounding earthworks of a 1400s stronghold. Auchindoun Castle may have been built by Thomas Cochrane, a favourite of King James III.
Auchindoun was sold to Sir Adam Gordon in 1567. Gordon’s claim to fame was the murder of all the occupants of Corgarff Castle during a feud in 1571. Auchindoun Castle was burned by William Mackintosh in revenge.
By 1725 the castle lay derelict.
The ruined castle stands alone in a spectacular setting amid a landscape mostly devoid of settlements. Its lonely, romantic location make it more than worth the walk.
Balvenie Castle is a ruined castle near Dufftown in the north of Aberdeenshire.
Originally known as Mortlach Castle, Balvenie was built in the 13th century castle of enclosure with an impressive curtain wall, a rare example of 13th-century military architecture in Scotland.
The Atholl Lodging within the castle is another fine example of Renaissance architecture, showing the layout of a noble residence and containing some fine details.
Balvenie was added to in the 15th and 16th centuries. The castle hosted Mary Queen of Scots in 1562 and other notable guests include King Edward I of England and the Marquess of Montrose.
Gordon Castle & Walled Garden
The family of Gordon is an ancient clan whose lineage dates back to the reign of King Robert the Bruce in the 14th Century. A castle was first established on the site of the Estate in 1479 by George, Second Earl of Huntly, the great, great grandson of Sir Adam Gordon, who had fought with Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Inverury in 1308.
In the late 18th Century Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, set about transforming the fortress of Gordon Castle into a grand baronial mansion, a Scottish Versailles, designed for show not defence.
Gordon Castle’s Walled Garden is a hugely popular local attraction and a great way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Ballindalloch Castle has been the Macpherson-Grant family home since the Sixteenth Century. It is one of the finest surviving examples of a Scottish Baronial Castle and tourists flock from around the globe to visit this ‘Pearl of the North’, and formal gardens situated at the heart of an agricultural Highland estate.
Located between Abelour and Grantown-on-Spey
The castle is situated above the Pass of Livet, historically an important routeway between Bamfshire and Aberdeenshire.
The “house of Blairfindy” was burned in 1746 by Cumberlands troops after Culloden, which probably refers to the castle’s destruction although we cannot be sure, and it remained unoccupied after this. When the Gordon estate was required to pay death duties in 1936, the Blairfindy Estate was one of several relinquished to the Crown in lieu, and was renamed the Glenlivet Estate. The castle remains owned by the Crown Estate to this day.
Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. Visit the grand 16th-century castle that was the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years. Inside, discover its impressive art collections, decorative ceilings and fine furniture. Outside, enjoy the beautifully landscaped garden, nature trail and the incredible family attraction – The Playful Garden.
To be added…
Tor Castle Dallas