The Mortimer family was first to build here in the early 12th century…it was a hall house … an elegant medieval strong hold. It was another Mortimer who gave Inchcolm Abbey (mentioned in an earlier post) some of the estate in 1216.
Alan de Mortimer is credited with building this keep and the nearby church of St Fillan.
The building that stands before you when you arrive is 500 years of the architectural history and it is like a puzzle trying to work it all out especially that which remains from the 11th up to the 15th century …even with a guidebook.
(If you click on the photos ...and double click on some ...most will enlarge somewhat)
In the mid 14th century the estate passed into the hands of the Douglas family and in the 15th century the hall house became a tower house and the huge rooms of the hall house/keep were divided into much smaller ones.
The central range, to the south and east of the tower house, was added in the later 16th century…. probably the work of James Douglas of the Angus branch known as the ‘Red Douglases’ because of their flaming red hair. He over saw Mary Queen of Scots’ abdication and became regent, governing Scotland for six years.
…these are oyster shells …inexpensive and abundant at this time and used as pinning, to help prevent the lime mortar from squeezing out. This structure also contained an unusual feature for castles at that time …corridors.
Regent Morton, a keen gardener, was also thought to have laid out the terraced garden to the south of the castle. The Dovecot that can be seen dates from the late16th century and held 600 nesting boxes.
The last major addition was that of the east range, created by the 8th Earl of Morton, William Douglas in the 17th century. This made the castle far more sumptuous than it had previously been, having ceilings fashionably painted with flowers fruit and cherubs …and walls hung with tapestries..
There was also a walled garden, enclosing about an acre, but the original lay out is unknown. It now holds the most beautiful display of plants and it is so restful to just sit and take them all in.
Going out one of the original entrances to the garden and turning the corner one comes across the wonderful St Fillan’s church, beautifully restored in 1925. It had had its roof removed, it is said because the Countess Morton did not like the villagers so close to the castle and that their journey to worship got in the way of her hunting. In 1790 a new church was built in the High Street and that building is now used as the Church Hall. St Fillans is one of the oldest churches in Scotland and is still an active parish church.
The Castle was taken into state care in 1924 after being used as a school, masonic lodge and a barracks in the years that passed after the property was vacated by the Earl of Morton in the 18th century.
I hope you enjoyed the nose around the castle and church ....I will try and visit somewhere soon that is not in ruins.lol
Take Care xx