Findlater Castle – Dangerous Ruins

Findlater Castle gets its name from Norse, Fyn meaning "white" and leitr "cliff". The quartz in the rock gives it the name. Findlater, or Fynletyr, is a town on the coast of Banffshire, a few miles west of Banff, between Cullen and Sand-end. The castle stands on a tiny peninsula that projects into a small bay of the North Sea. There is a sheer drop of more than fifty feet to the rocks and sea below and some portions of the castle have fallen into the sea. The ruin is classified as 'Dangerous'.

It was probably built by Sir John Sinclair of Findlater and is modeled on Roslyn, thus dating it to late fourteenth century. There were fortifications on the site since the 13th century and some structures on the west date from 1455, when James II allowed Sir Walter Ogilvie of Deskford who owned it then, to fortify this site. It is surrounded cliffs, 150 feet high and can only be reached by a causeway. There is a break in it in front of the former gateway that is spanned by a wooden drawbridge.

The Ogilvies did not own it for long. In 1560, the Ogilvie Laird argued with his son, disinherited him, and signed Findlater Castle over to Sir John Gordon, third son of the Earl of Huntly. In 1562, the Gordons rebelled against Mary, refusing her entry to the castle. They were defeated in the Battle of Corrochie and the Findlater Castle was abandoned in 1600. It was in ruins by 1638 and has not been habitable since.

Today a portion of the wall survives, with fragments of a building at the north and foundations of two other buildings on the east side. One can also see parts of a retaining wall on the northeast but most of the buildings that existed at the courtyard level are entirely gone. The only structure to stand holds two stories of vaulted rooms with a row of windows. Below this set of rooms are a large kitchen and two other vaults, one of which was a dungeon and can be reached only by a hatch.

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