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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

Scottish Castles Association Former President, the late Professor Charles McKean (2011-13)


Charles McKean FRSE 1946 - 2013

The Scottish Castles Association mourns the passing of our President, Professor Charles McKean, who died peacefully on 29th September 2013 aged 67. Charles retired from his post as Professor of Scottish Architectural History at the University of Dundee, two years ago, where he established his reputation as one of the foremost experts on Scottish Castles.

His authoritative but controversial book ‘The Scottish Chateau’ defined a different perspective on the role of Scottish Tower Houses in the 16th and 17th Centuries from that which had been accepted previously. For this book, he was awarded the Nigel Tranter Memorial Award by the Scottish Castles Association in 2004. We were delighted that he subsequently accepted an invitation to succeed David Steel as our President in 2011 (see article below which was written at that time).


Please note that the article below was written in 2012. As Charles sadly died in 2013 we thought we should keep this article live for posterity.


David Steel - Charles McKean

Judy Steel, her husband Lord David Steel and new SCA President Charles McKean (middle)

The 2011 AGM heralded a major change in the Association, as David Steel had expressed his wish to retire as President after 11 years at the helm. Lord Steel of Aikwood, KT, KBE, PC, DL, an active member of the SCA since 1997, was elected to the role of President at the AGM in 2000, following the sad death of our Founder President, Nigel Tranter. In those years we have moved forward in many ways, and taken a more pro-active stance in our aim to widen interest and knowledge of Scotland's fortified heritage. Our invitation to join with Historic Scotland in their Scottish Castles Initiative, a project supported and promoted by the Scottish Government, is a fitting tribute to the advance of the Association during his time as President. David's input to the Association from his own personal experience and influence has been invaluable, and we extend our grateful thanks to him.

New President

Prof Charles McKean
Professor Charles McKean

Taking over the reins is Professor Charles McKean, FRSE, Professor of Scottish Architectural History at the University of Dundee since 1997. Born in Glasgow in 1946, he has held a wide variety of posts in a distinguished career, including a period as CEO of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. He is the author of numerous books and papers, and has contributed to many architectural projects, both as an active member and, in some cases, as an expert witness.

In addition to his formal academic achievements, he is the recipient of a number of architectural awards and honorary fellowships. As many of you will know, in 2004 the SCA awarded him the Nigel Tranter Memorial Award for his work in the area of Scottish history and its architecture, and particularly for his book, "The Scottish Chateau", described at the time as "..a radical, and controversial, reassessment of the development of the country house in Renaissance Scotland". In his acceptance speech, Professor McKean paid tribute to David Steel, describing him as "a hard act to follow". He also praised his and Judy's work on Aikwood Tower, and Judy's continuing contribution to cultural life in the Borders.


Date posted: 05 Oct 2012Last updated: 06 Feb 2017


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