Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Abergeldie Castle rescued from the brink

The heavy rainfall experienced at the start of January 2016 saw many parts of Scotland suffer widespread flooding. In the north-east, the Royal Deeside area - and especially the town of Ballater - saw many homes left ruined by the torrents of water that flooded into the streets when the River Dee's banks burst. Set right beside the River Dee, Abergeldie Castle, an A-listed 16th-century tower house, teetered on the brink of collapse when the river banks were swept away forcing its owner, 76-year-old Baron of Abergeldie John Gordon and his wife, to flee for safety - and plead for support to rescue it.

Abergeldie - just feet away from a 12ft drop into the River Dee
Abergeldie work
Pictures by Kenny Elrick
and Kami Thomson

Having secured £100,000 funding and with support from Aberdeenshire Council, teams worked tirelessly through the night for five days to build up the banks by the castle using tonnes of rocks to effectively prop the castle up and prevent further erosion to the banks. Thankfully, the castle is now no longer deemed at immediate risk. You can watch a fascinating time-lapse video showing the work on the Press & Journal website by clicking here .

Originally the castle stood back from the river bank - as the picture below shows - and early accounts suggest that the Dee was diverted to fill its moat. The castle has been much altered especially in the 18th century when a long, low addition was made.

Abergeldie 1864
Abergeldie Castle in 1864 - placed well back from the banks

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 14 Jan 2016 Updated: 16 Oct 2023
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