Kindrochit Castle, Braemar- watching brief and excavation 

The ruins of Kindrochit Castle lie within the village of Braemar, Deeside, close to the A93 road to Blairgowrie via Glenshee. The ruins are of two castles, with a late-Fourteenth Century tower house inserted into the remains of an earlier bailey. The earliest mention of Kindrochit is during the reign of Malcolm III (1058-1093), when a hunting lodge stood on or near the site, which was later fortified to defend a bridge crossing the Water of Clunie. By the reign of Robert II (1371-1390), the castle was regularly in use as a royal hunting seat and the king issued numerous charters from Kindrochit. In 1390, his successor Robert III granted Malcolm Drummond a licence to build a new castle on the site. During construction, Malcolm was either kidnapped or murdered by unknown assailants and his widow, Isabella, Countess of Mar, was then forced to marry Alexander Stewart, who acquired Kindrochit from her along with the rest of the Earldom of Mar. By 1618, the castle was in ruins- according to legend this was the result of an outbreak of plague, when those afflicted were barricaded into the castle, which was then destroyed by cannon fire.

 

                                                       Kindrochit, during wallhead consolidation

Between 2013 and 2015, the castle ruins were consolidated and made safe for public access, in a partnership project between Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland, local residents and Urquhart Stone Masonry Ltd. Alder carried out archaeological monitoring of the painstaking consolidation work, which resulted in the re-excavation of the remains, previously the subject of three digs mounted in 1923, 1928 and 1949 by WD Simpson. 

 

The tower house base

After reviewing the progress of the watching brief, HES requested that Alder also carry out an evaluation, followed by a small excavation, in the SE quadrant of the site, where it was suspected that a previously unseen stretch of wall might be located. The evaluation, on 2nd and 3rd June 2014, involved the opening of two test pits between the ruined gatehouse and the remains of a corner tower and suggested that a wall did indeed run between these features. The excavation (30th June-4th July) opened the area between the test pits and exposed the basal courses of a substantial defensive wall.

The connecting wall 

The base of a splayed window or arrow slit was also exposed, along with a possible floor abutting the gatehouse. Further work exposed the stubs of two partition walls extending from the main wall and seemingly destroyed during the construction of the later tower house.

Intramural staircase

The watching brief, meanwhile, exposed several features including a postern gate floor and double gate recesses, slots for gate bars, hinge sockets containing traces of lead, a storage recess within a larder room, window splays and butresses or tower bases reinforcing the main walls. The castle structure was found to be generally of unworked or rough-dressed quarried stone with lime mortar bonding.

Lead plug in wall corner 

Read about the archaeological monitoring of Kindrochit in Volume 21/22 of TAFAJ here