Claypotts Castle – Well Preserved and Unusual

Claypotts Castle is remarkably well preserved and a perfect example of a 16th-century castle in Scotland. It was never involved in any battle hence has never suffered any major damage or needed any restoration or reconstruction. It was more a dwelling for the family than a defensive structure and hence does not have the typical characteristics of a fortress. It stands near the suburb of West Ferry on the eastern edge of Dundee on the east coast of Scotland.

A typical Z plan tower house, Claypotts Castle is a rectangular block with two towers on diagonal corners. The unique features of the castle are the square garret chambers on the top of the towers. These square gabled rooms, rarely seen on a round tower and give the castle a distinctive appearance. Two turnpike stairs – one for the family, one for the staff – are built into the angles created by the towers. The stairs for the staff runs from ground level to the attic, which is also quite unusual. The towers have the dates 1569-88 carved on them – a rather lengthy duration for building such a compact tower castle. The arms and initials of the owner, John Strachan, are also visible on the walls of the tower.

Strachan received the land from the Abbey of Lindores in tenancy. Alexander II has donated it to the Abbey prior to 1247. Strachlan constructed the tower as a home and they lived there till1601, when they sold it to Sir William Graham of Ballunie, a prominent landlord of the region. His son, David was probably the last owner who lived in the castle.

In 1694 Claypotts Castle was awarded to James, second Marquis of Douglas for his service and loyalty to King William of Orange. In the 19th century the castle passed by marriage to the twelfth Earl of Home. It stayed with the Homes till they gave it over to the state in 1926. The castle is now in the care of Historic Scotland and is no longer open to the public. It can however be admired from outside.

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