Broughty Castle

Completed around 1495, Broughty Castle had been earlier fortified in 1454 when George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus received permission to build on the site. His son Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus was coerced into ceding the castle to the crown. The main tower house forming the centre of the castle with four floors was built by Andrew, 2nd Lord Gray who was granted the castle in 1490. Broughty Castle has been party to a little excitement over the years; more notably the “Nine Year War” or “Rough Wooing”, classed by many as the first ‘modern’ battle on the British Isles. The battle was a monumental defeat for Scotland, and the date of 10th September 1547 was known as “Black Saturday”. Soon after taking possession, the English garrison further fortified Broughty Castle from intrusion by building a ditch across the landward side of the castle’s promontory. Edward Clinton began the re-fortification, with the advice of an Italian engineer, Master John Rossetti, and left 100 men guarded by three ships. The garrison was first led by Sir Andrew Dudley. The Constable of Dundee, John Scrimgeour, the Baillies and the Council signed the agreement, although under duress.

The Earl of Argyll tried to capture the castle on 22 November 1547 and again in January 1548 with 150 men led by the soldier Duncan Dundas, without success. Thomas Wyndham brought two more ships in December 1547 and burnt Balmerino Abbey on Christmas Day in an outrage. On Christmas Day 1549, Mary of Guise held a warfare meeting at Stirling Castle with her guests, and they agreed that more French guns could be brought to besiege Broughty. Twelve English ships arrived to support the defenders and it was 12 February 1550 before the French and Scots managed to recapture Broughty. Mary of Guise watched the successful assault on Wednesday 6 February 1550 from a vantage point across the Tay.

Broughty Castle was attacked again in 1651 by General Monck during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, at the same time as the people of Dundee were slaughtered by his garrison. Needless to say, the defending Royalists hastily fled the scene, knowing full well the extent of Moncks’ brutality. The castle was under the ownership of the Gray family when it was sold in 1666, and over time began to show advanced signs of disrepair. In 1846 the castle was bought by the Edinburgh and Northern Railway Company in order to build an adjacent harbour for their railway ferry.

In 1855 the castle was acquired by the War Office with the intention of using it to defend the harbour from the Russians. In 1860 renewed fears of a French invasion led the War Office to rebuild and fortify the site. The castle remained in military use until 1932, and again between 1939 and 1949. The last defence-related alteration was made in the Second World War when a defence post was built within the top of the main tower, and in 1969, operated by Dundee City Council, the castle opened its doors to the public as a museum.

– DD Tours operates walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.


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