Castle Roy is a rare example of an early castle ruin that was built in the late 12th century. It sits upon a rocky glacial mound to the north of the beautiful village of Nethy Bridge. Interestingly the castle has been associated with the clans of Mar, Comyn, Stewart and Grant. It changed many hands through marriages and alliances, Alexander the 2nd granted the lordship of Abernethy to James Earl of mar in 1126. James was prospered by his brother Duncan who ruled until 1244, then Duncan was succeeded by William who married into the powerful Comyn family, but that power was soon crushed in 1306 by the mighty Robert the Bruce.
Much later in 1592 John Grant gained the charter to the lordship of Abernethy. The castle itself would have been built towards the end of the Norman colonisation of Scotland, very unique because the castle remains unaltered and simple. The walls enclose a beautifully kept courtyard and are constructed of glacial rubble rocks collected locally from the village. Standing at 25ft high and the walls 7ft thick, the lime mortar remains incredibly strong after 800 years making this place special in its own rights.
The size of the castle indicates this would have more than likely been a base for the local area factor to refresh and rest. It’s four thick stone walls protected various timber buildings inside that would have included the clan chiefs dwellings, his possessions and food, animals and soldiers. Inside the castle there isn’t much left to see, but evidence in the walls in the Garderobe area show the chiefs latrine, whilst above here internal passages would have led on to two other latrines, there is a corner tower which had two floors of which a window remains. The fortress is one of the oldest castles of its type in Scotland and is unique in that it is largely unaltered. There is one stone in the tower area which has been carved several centuries ago, if you’re able to explore here look out for it, it shows you a few initials so it begs the question who would have carved them, when and why, it’s definitely a castle with many stories to tell.
The castle is free to roam, they have even made a car park at the entrance which is very handy and even better for people with motorhomes, it makes the perfect stop off on your journey around the cairngorms, all they ask is for a small donation to sleep on their grounds, it’s now maintained beautifully by a trust, who have the aim to preserve the castle and I read that it even holds wedding ceremonies in the castle itself and many other events. Something of interest to some of our walking and hiking friends is a woodland loop that is around 3.5miles and is well signposted with markers all around the gorgeous woodlands; it starts at the castle and leads you around a windy well pathed trail and over some bridges in the forest to then loops round back to castle Roy.
Another reason to stop off here is not only to bask in some Scottish landscapes with the beautiful mountain ranges in the distance but to visit the keeper and the protector of the castle. His name is Munro, the beautiful Helian Coo, he was pretty tired when we visited him, but by the end of our visit he jumped up and greeted me just in time for a quick snap, he has a best friend there too, in the other part of his home and his name is Buster the sheep. These beautiful beings are enjoying their time eating and actually seem to really enjoy there environment, make sure you go visit them if not for the castle. So, we really hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to Castle Roy and its given some inspiration to visit somewhere lesser known in the area.
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Till Next Time!