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Edzell Castle And Garden

Beautiful statement of the prestige of its owners, the Lindsays

Edzell Castle And Garden

A noble residence

Edzell Castle is enchanting. The red sandstone castle walls, set amid pleasing green parkland, conjure up an image of a noble bygone age. Medieval society was not all fighting and feuding. Everyday lordly life in late-medieval rural Scotland is more readily understood at Edzell than at most castles.

Edzell was home to the Lindsays. When they acquired the estate in 1358, the lordly seat was a timber residence beside the ancient church. During the 16th century, they built a brand-new castle a short distance away – the one we admire today. The ‘icing on the cake’ of their new residence was the wonderful ‘great garden’, added in 1604.

The ‘lichtsome’ Lindsays

The Lindsays were a gifted, turbulent and tragic noble family. They were known as the ‘lichtsome [carefree] Lindsays’. Their head became Earl of Crawford and one of the most powerful men in the realm. In the mid-1400s David, the 3rd Earl, made Edzell a separate inheritance for his younger son, Walter, and the castle remained with this junior branch for the rest of its days as a Lindsay residence.

For a time in the 16th century, this junior branch also held the earldom of Crawford in the person of David, 9th Earl. It was he who began building the new residence. It was centred on an impressive tower house, with state apartments in the gatehouse range, and additional family rooms along the north side of the courtyard. The family’s most famous guests were Mary Queen of Scots, in 1562, and her son James VI, in 1580 and 1589.

Alas, the family fell on hard times. In 1715 they were forced to sell Edzell because of mounting debts. With their departure from the scene, Edzell’s days as a noble residence were over.

The ‘great garden’

The family’s greatest building achievement at Edzell was the wonderful walled garden. It was added by the 9th Earl’s son, David, Lord Edzell, in 1604. The present garden layout was recreated in the 1930s. However, the garden’s most arresting and original features are its four enclosing walls, which display a series of unique carved panels. These portray the Seven Cardinal Virtues, the Seven Liberal Arts and the Seven Planetary Deities. Sir David’s intention was clearly to provide a stimulus both for the mind and the senses. His garden is unique in Europe and gives the castle a distinctive place in the art history of the European Renaissance.

Events at Edzell Castle And Garden

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26 November 2014

Ruth Nicol: Three Rivers Meet

Duff House

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Standing Stones of Stenness Guided Walk

Stones Of Stenness Circle And Henge

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