Auchindoun Castle lies off the Dufftown to Rhynie road in Morayshire. We've driven past many times and recently took some time to visit the castle properly. From the road you just get a glimpse of a gaunt tower, but from the top of the short walk to the site the scale of the ruin becomes readily apparent.
The castle is in the care of Historic Scotland and has recently undergone extensive work to make the ruins safe and allow access inside the outer wall. It seems to have had a consistently violent history even in the context of the bloody feuds of 15th and 16th century Scotland. It seems not to have been held by anybody for very long, and slightly unusually it was bought and sold during its history. Mostly associated with the Earls of Huntly, Auchindoun dominates the approaches to Speyside by Fiddichside and to an extent Glen Rinnes
An old song, "The Burning of Auchindoun", commemorates one incident in the castle's long story when it was attacked in 1592 by Clan Mackintosh in retaliation for Huntly's murder of "The Bonny Earl o' Moray". Truly turbulent times....
Auchindoun was clearly a very grand design; and what surprised us was the amount of the structure which is still in existence. Here part of the outer walls and a gated entrance with signs of additional buildings inside the wall.
The main tower commands a great view and would have dominated the surrounding countryside. Parts of the outer earthworks are thought to have been a much earlier hillfort, possibly neolithic and in turn, Pictish.
The main tower still has upper floors intact and portions of vaulted ceilings, and there is a basement carved out of the bedrock of the knoll on which it stands.
Today the castle is a peaceful if dramatic place with views over the whisky country of Morayshire. Control of trade probably played a big part in the choice of site and with the close proximity of present-day distilleries like Mortlach, Knockando, Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Glenlivet to name but a few it would be trade worth controlling today!
Auchindoun was facinating and an unexpected gem with real atmosphere; it's somewhere we'll no doubt revisit - maybe next time with a dram in hand.....