Strong point on the Tay
‘Broughty’ probably means ‘strong point on the Tay’. We cannot be sure when the mouth of the Tay was first fortified, but the present castle was built at the end of the 15th century.
In 1490, the 2nd Lord Gray received a charter from James IV to erect the castle. This was prompted by increased English naval activity. Five English ships had been captured nearby in 1489.
Broughty Castle was built hastily, but perhaps unnecessarily. It figured in only two national emergencies over 450 years.
At the Battle of Pinkie, in September 1547, the Scots were heavily defeated. But Lord Gray supported the English cause: he wanted Mary Queen of Scots to marry a Protestant Englishman, not a Catholic Frenchman.
Within a fortnight, the castle was in English hands. The English garrison stayed for two years, occupying Dundee, threatening Perth and St Andrews, and pillaging Angus and Fife.
A threat of French invasion in 1859 prompted Broughty’s conversion to a modern artillery defence. Lord Gray’s tower house was gutted and extended, to house a sergeant and 14 men. A massive angled battery was built, but the French invasion never came.
The threat from Germany in the 20th century led to further alterations. The last intervention was in 1942, when a defence post was built on top of the tower house.
- The location – at the entrance to the Firth of Tay, with sweeping views.
- Lord Gray’s 15th-century tower house – still remarkably intact.
- The 19th-century artillery defences – well-preserved coastal defences still bristling with guns.
Broughty Castle Museum
The castle now houses a museum run by Dundee City Council. The museum contains fascinating displays on the life and times of Broughty Ferry, its people, the local environment and the wildlife.
for details on the museum.