Castle Roy


The Comyn Family Thought to have given rise to the surname Cumming. The ruling family in Abernethy during the 13th Cent, residing at Castle Roy. Norman origins, possibly arriving with William the Conqueror. 1210 - William Comyn married second wife Marjory Heiress of Buchan 1220s - 1257 - Son Walter was Lord of Badenoch and Kincardine (prob. inc Abernethy) 1257 - Walter succeeded by nephew John 'The Black' (Black Comyn). 1274 - John The Red succeeded by his son John 'The Red'. 1306 - John The Red (Red Comyn) killed by Robert the Bruce at Dumfries. Robert the Bruce, once in power, remained hostile to the Comyns and divided their land among his own followers. 1381 - John Comyn gave up Abernethy to King Robert at Montrose in 1381. King Roberts son was Alexander 'The Wolf of Badenoch' or 'Alexander the Big'. A Gaelic proverb refers to the Comyns : 'So long as there is a tree in the wood, There will be guile in the Cummings' Revack Estate Local estate near Grantown on Spey. Castle Roy Trust (charitable status) Started by Richard Eccles in 1994. To protect the castle walls from further collapse the Trust erected a fence and removed certain trees from the site. Long term goals are to undertake architectural and archaeological surveys of the site and ultimately manage it as a free visitor attraction. linkto:[[Castle Roy Trust website]] The Comyn Family - 13th - 14th Century Revack Estate - ? - 1998 The Castle Roy Trust - 199

Built by

Believed to be the Comyn Family

Construction date

13th century

Location/map ref

Alongside the B970 road just outside Nethy Bridge, near the Old Kirk (grid ref NJ 006 219) (Interpretive panel and car parking nearby) Note - unfortunately, the castle cannot be entered due to unsafe walls. However, it is now under the ownership of the Castle Roy Trust and fundraising is being done at present to allow the Trust to move forward. The Trust has already undertaken some work to shore up unstable masonry. There are plans to consolidate the walls and create an area that can be visited and used by the local community. Thanks to ongoing support from the Cairngorms National Park Authority.


There are tales of treasure hidden within the walls and a secret passageway connecting to the nearby Old Kirk. However, potential explorers would be at risk of plague which was also hidden in the walls. The Castle is rumoured to have its own ghost, appearing on the walls during the summer solstice.


Walls - 7ft thick, 20 - 25ft high Courtyard - 80ft x 53ft Entrance in north wall by doorway 8ft wide. The design is similar to an early type of castle called a 'Broch', which itself was based on earlier Roman forts. It would have been built towards the end of the Norman colonisation of Scotland, its four thick stone walls supporting smaller timber buildings inside. These would have housed the family, their possessions, food and possibly animals and servants. Shapes in the walls suggest latrines, a corner tower and garde-robe (M'Gibbon and Ross in Forsyth 1900). The stones making up the walls do not apparently show any tool - marks and are likely to be glacial boulders collected locally. The lime used to create the mortar was probably created at one of the many local lime kiln sites and the mortar itself, apparently mixed with charcoal, seems to be very strong. The structure of the walls suggests that they were built up in stages, using timber frames as a guide (Forsyth 1900). Apparently there was a crypt or vault in the centre court, which was later filled in to prevent accidents to cattle. Castle Roy's location on the fertile Spey floodplain would have provided fresh water, soil for crops and pasture and easy access to forests for food, fuel and timber - and by siting the castle on a hill, drainage and defence may have been improved. A substantial building in a location such as this would have been much envied in the 1200s and would therefore have been designed to be well defended. It has been claimed to be the oldest castle of its type in Scotland (Forsyth) (i.e. it is largely unaltered, whereas older remaining castles have been extensively modified over the centuries). In 1548 the Castle was named in the Charter of the Earldom of Moray (therefore possibly still in use). The internal timber buildings have long since decayed.

Other references

M. O'Reilly Explore Abernethy Visitor Centre linkto:[[Explore Abernethy website]] Dunne, R (2002) Listening Post oral history archive, Explore Abernethy Visitor centre Eccles, R (2002) Listening Post oral history archive, Explore Abernethy Visitor centre Forsyth, W (1900) 'In the Shadow of Cairngorm' (Inverness) Grant, Elspeth (1994) 'Abernethy Forest - Its People and Its past' (Arkleton Trust )