Brodie Castle

Written by Chris Thornton | 6th of December 2023
Brodie Castle

Brodie Castle is one of Moray's most famous castles, painted a rose pink and situated within stunning gardens; it makes for a fantastic day out, especially with small children.

My wife and I had been to Brodie Castle as children, but we couldn't remember much about it, so in my relentless pursuit of making content for this website, we decided to visit the fantastic Brodie Castle.

Join my wife and me as we visit one of Moray's best tourist attractions.

Our visit to Brodie Castle

We visited Brodie Castle on a sunny weekend in early September; the weather was glorious, and the cold of autumn hadn't yet arrived.

The castle entrance was easily accessible from the A96, one of the main roads cutting through most of Moray. Keep your eyes peeled for Rodney's Stone in a small enclosure to the left; this Pictish stone is over 1200 years old!

The main entrance to Brodie Castle.
The main entrance.

The road took us to a large car park, which is pay and display; toilets are available just a short distance away in a free-standing building.

Signage at the car park directed us to the Welcome Centre so we could gain access to the site.

Signs at car park.
Signage and lead up to the Welcome Centre.
 
Brodie Castle site map.
A map of the castle grounds.
 
Brodie Castle car park.
Looking back towards the car park.

The Welcome Centre

At the welcome centre, we were greeted by a chatty staff member. Luckily, we were members of the National Trust for Scotland, so we gained entry to the site AND booked a free tour - saving £66 in total; wow!

The longhouse style visitor centre.
The Welcome Centre to purchase tickets and access the play park.
 
Gift shop and main reception within the Welcome Centre at Brodie Castle.
Gift shop and main reception.
 
Brodie Castle Welcome Centre toilets.
The toilets at the Welcome Centre were very clean.

Our tour wasn't due to start until 1 pm, so we decided to explore the gardens first, starting with the Playful Garden.

The Playful Garden

This is a relatively new addition to Brodie Castle. This garden is built with children in mind, the main features being a giant white rabbit, tunnels (rabbit holes), interactive art installations, and a musical area with xylophone-type instruments. Humorously, the rabbit is Scotland's biggest rabbit sculpture!

The playful garden, a family friendly garden area
The Playful Garden with the large white rabbit.
 
Tunnel
Emerging from one of the rabbit tunnels.
 
Brodie Castle mirror pillars.
Mirror sculpture.
 
Spinning tops.
Weird giant spinning tops.
 
Xylopones at Brodie Castle.
Xylophone area.
 
Whisper experiment
Whisper sound experiment.

For the adults, just a short hop from the rabbit is an interesting variety of plants, including apple trees, pumpkin patches and some of the largest sunflowers I've ever seen. There is a beautiful wildflower meadow area that must be a haven for many types of insects.

Brodie Castle sunflowers
Janette shows the size of the sunflowers.
 
Wild meadows.
Wild meadow and Playful Gardens.
 
The gardens are an important part of Brodie family history.
Gardens near the Welcome Centre.
 
Playful Gardens
Panoramic photo of the Playful Gardens.
 
Brodie Gardens.
Gardens.
 
Brodie pumpkin.
Pumpkin patch.

The main feature of the gardens here is a large area dedicated to daffodils, which were not growing when we visited in September. Ian Brodie, the 24th Brodie of Brodie, bred over 400 different varieties of daffodil between 1899 and 1942.

Many small markers mark where the many varieties of daffies grow; it must be an amazing sight in spring, and we will likely return to see them in full bloom next year.

National Daffodil collection
Where the varieties of daffodils will grow in spring.

Castle grounds

We continued to the grounds around the castle and took a wee detour to the shrubbery! This secluded spot gave us some welcome shelter from the sun. We found a sundial here and a huge tree, which Janette's mobile app said was a giant sequoia! The bark was red and spongy, almost flesh-like.

Brodie Castle side view.
The castle is seen from the shrubbery.
 
Brodie Gardens.
Gardens leading up to the sundial.
 
Brodie sundial.
The central sundial shows the time accurately.
 
Giant sequoia at Brodie Castle.
Giant sequoia.

Leaving the shrubbery, we followed a path to the castle's rear, where we found another cafe and seating area. Directly next to this area was a fun-looking woodland adventure playground; we definitely have to come back with the kids!

Wild flowers behind Brodie Castle.
Walking to the rear of the castle.
 
Rear view of Brodie Castle.
Brodie Castle rear view.
 
Brodie Castle Cafe and seating.
Cafe and seating area at the rear of the castle.
 
Brodie Castle Adventure Playground. Fun for all the family.
The adventure playground.
 
Brodie Castle toilets.
Another toilet block near the castle.

Before our castle tour, we still had some time to kill, so we took the half-mile walk to the pond.

The Pond

Following the long straight path from the castle, we came to "The Pond" which is more like a small loch with a lovely forested path that loops back to the start. This was a great walk; again, we were grateful for the shade from the trees. There are two viewing hides built on the pond; we didn't see any glamour species on this visit though, only ducks!

Path to the pond.
The long path to the pond.
 
A striking castle
Looking back towards the castle from the pond path.
 
Brodie Castle pond.
Arriving at the pond.
 
Brodie Pond walk. Woodland walks.
The dappled light made this walk very enjoyable.
 
Half way through the pond walk.
At the far end of the walk, the trees give way to a more barren area.
 
Brodie wildlife hide.
One of the wildlife hides in the pond.
 
Pond castle view.
The view down the length of the pond to the castle.
 
Janette Thornton taking a photo.
Janette taking a picture from the hide.
 
Brodie ducks.
Ducks on the pond.
 
Brodie Castle Pond
The view of the pond near the end of the walk.

Outside Brodie Castle

Arriving back to the castle from the pond, we walked around the castle's perimeter. It's possible to see the original castle tower and the sprawling Victorian extension attached to it.

The tower itself is painted a pink/rose colour, which stands out against the more moderate colours of the newer sections of the castle. On the tower, some cannons pointed out from the top; I'm not sure if these are original features or added later (or even if they are cannons!).

Brodie Castle cafe and castle.
Cafe and rear view of the castle.
 
The castle's shape is a classic Z-plan tower.
Brodie Castle is an impressive structure.
 
The family seat and ancestral home of Clan Brodie.
Fine details can be found all over the castle.
 
Cannons on the old tower.
The cannon masonry featured on the old tower.
 
Brodie Castle Tower
The old tower to the right, with a newer extension to the left.
 
The castle houses a letter from Robert the Bruce.
Family crests adorn the walls.
 
Brodie Castle is nestled within the gentle Moray countryside.
Old tower with new extension.

The Brodie Castle Tour

The castle itself is not accessible, apart from the tour, which runs twice daily and must be booked in advance at the main reception within the Welcome Centre. We arrived around 10 minutes early at the castle entrance to begin our tour. A queue was already forming, and the tour guide, "Bob" made his way around everyone and asked where they were visiting from today... I felt slightly embarrassed to say "Buckie" when the others were from far-flung destinations like America and Australia.

Brodie Castle tour. The tour displays a magnificent collection of furniture and art by Dutch old masters.
Queuing up for the tour, you can see my new hero Bob to the right.

Entering the castle, Bob explained many features of the entrance hall, including Greek pillars and a portrait of the castle's last inhabitant - Ninian Brodie.

The main areas on the tour were:

  • The Guard Room

  • The Library

  • Staircases

  • Dining room

  • Bedrooms

  • Nursery

  • Servant accommodation

The absolute standout rooms for me were the downstairs library and the dining room. The library contains a copy of a letter from Robert the Bruce sent to Malcolm, Thane of Brodie, in 1312. The original letter sometimes resides in the castle if you are lucky enough to see it on your visit. Interestingly, the letter contains complaints from the monks of Pluscarden Abbey nearby.

The dining room's ceiling was absolutely amazing. I've never seen anything like it, and for me, this is the standout room in the castle. Photography wasn't allowed inside, so I can't show you how impressive it was, but click here for a photo on another website.

Bob, the tour guide (and an ex-head master), was an absolute treasure and really made the tour interesting and engaging compared to other tours I've undertaken elsewhere.

The tour itself was the highlight of our visit to Brodie Castle and should definitely undertaken to get the most out of your visit to the castle. The tour is pretty long, at around 60 minutes, and I would say it might be unsuitable for younger children who might find it a tad boring. As an adult, you can really appreciate the castle's grandeur, but I think it may be lost on small children.

On most tours at other castles, you can make your way around the different areas at your leisure, but the Brodie tour is very much a guided tour, and you cannot easily leave or fast forward at any time, so keep that in mind that you are basically "stuck" on the tour until it ends.

Sadly, photography is forbidden within the castle, so I have no photos of the fantastic things we saw... I did consider taking a few photos surreptitiously, but I didn't want to annoy Bob!

The tour did not seem to have provisions for disabled visitors; however, there were no disabled visitors on our tour, so I'm not sure if special provisions could be made. There were multiple flights of stairs throughout the tour, so only the ground floor will likely be accessible.

National Trust for Scotland

As mentioned above, the castle is now under the stewardship of the National Trust for Scotland. They seem to be doing a fantastic job maintaining the castle for visitors. The staff seemed like consummate professionals, and our tour guide, Bob, was particularly brilliant.

National Trust for Scotland offers events at the castle, including weddings and indoor/outdoor events. It's also possible to stay in a special suite within the castle - the Laird's Wing.

We are National Trust members, and it has proven useful as we get free parking and free entry/tours to each place we have visited so far. Culzean Castle and the Robert Burns Museum cost nothing to visit.

A historic castle in Moray. Gentle moray countryside surround the ancient building.
Main frontal view of Brodie Castle.

A brief history of Brodie Castle

King Malcolm IV is credited with giving the land to the Brodie family around 1160. The castle would be home to the Brodie clan for over 800 hundred years to come. The tower dates from about 1430, and parts/wings were added in 1530, 1820 and 1830.

Today, Brodie Castle is considered more of a large mansion than a castle. The only remaining part of the original castle is the pink coloured tower, which can still be seen today.

1645 - Lewis Gordon of Clan Gordon, the 3rd Marquis of Huntly, set the castle ablaze because the Brodie family was part of the "Covenanters" religion.

The Jacobite Uprising of 1715

James Brodie of Brodie, the 18th chief, found himself at odds with Lord Huntley, who was George Gordon, the grandson of the previously mentioned Lewis Gordon and heir to the Duke of Gordon. James Brodie defied Lord Huntley's command when asked to relinquish his horse and arms. In retaliation, Lord Huntley made severe threats, from destroying Brodie Castle to harming the clan's tenants. Undeterred, Clan Brodie fortified themselves within their castle walls. Without sufficient artillery, Lord Huntley had no choice but to retract his threats.

The Jacobite Rising of 1745

By the time of the 1745 Jacobite rising, the Brodie chief was Alexander Brodie, the 19th chief and also the Lord Lyon King of Arms. A staunch supporter of the government (or Hanoverian) forces, he didn't directly participate in the Battle of Culloden. However, tales from the family chronicles narrate the presence of government troops in the woodland near the castle, now referred to as the '45 Wood

1824 - William Burn embarks on transforming the castle into a grand Scots Baronial mansion. Yet, his vision was left incomplete. Later, James Wylson took on the task of redesigning it in 1845.

1980 - Brodie Castle is given to the National Trust for Scotland after the building becomes too expensive to maintain by the Brodie family.

2003 - For centuries, the Brodie family resided in the castle. The last of this lineage to call the castle home was Ninian Brodie, who passed away in 2003.

Visitor Information

Opening times:

1st of July - 31st of August, daily, 11.00–15.00.
September 31st - October, Wed-Sun, 11.00–15.00.
1st of Nov– 31 December, open for events only.

Address: Brodie Castle, Forres, Moray, IV36 2TE.

Contact details:

Telephone: +44 (0)1309 641371
Email: brodiecastle@nts.org.uk

Entry prices:

Castle only

Adult - £12.00
Family - £38.00
One adult family - £31.50
Concession - £10.00
Child - £7.00
Young Scot - £1.00

Playful Garden only

Adult - £5.00
Child - £5.00

Child under 3 - Free

Castle & Playful Garden

Adult - £16.00
Family - £42.50
One adult family - £32.50
Concession - £13.50
Child - £10.00
Young Scot - £1.00

Location links:

Google maps location
What3words: ///panic.ruffling.edges
OS: NJ036586

4.5 miles west of Forres and 24 miles east of Inverness.

Facilities:

There is a large car park, two cafes, multiple accessible toilet blocks, and a gift shop.

Brodie Castle toilet block.
This toilet block is next to the car park.

FAQs on Brodie Castle

Here are a few frequently asked questions on Brodie Castle:

How to get to Brodie Castle

Here are some directions from both Forres and Inverness.

From Forres:

  1. Leave Forres via the A96 heading west towards Inverness.

  2. After about 3 miles, look for a right turn to Brodie Castle, marked with a brown tourism sign.

  3. Cross two little bridges; you will arrive at a giveaway junction; beware of traffic here.

  4. Cross the road to reach the entrance to Brodie Castle.

From Inverness:

  1. Leave Inverness via the A96 heading east.

  2. Continue on the A96, passing through Nairn.

  3. Just after Brodie Countryfare, look for a left turn to Brodie Castle marked "Culbin".

  4. Take your immediate right after the railway crossing to Brodie Castle.

Does anyone live in Brodie Castle?

Not anymore, the last resident, Ninian Brodie, died in 2003 and bequeathed the castle to the National Trust for Scotland. However, it is possible to stay in the castle's private suite, the 7-bedroom Laird's Wing, but it will likely cost a king's ransom!

Who owns Brodie Castle in Scotland?

The castle has been in complete ownership of the National Trust for Scotland since 1980.

What is interesting about Brodie Castle?

The main things I found most interesting were:

  • The external stone masonry on the castle.

  • The amazing plaster cast ceiling in the dining room.

  • The letter from Robert the Bruce in the library.

  • The legacy of the daffodil gardens.

Does Brodie Castle have a cafe?

Yes, there were two cafes, one at the Welcome Centre and the other at the castle's rear.

Can you gain access to the castle grounds without paying?

There is nothing to stop visitors from walking directly from the castle from the car park, but if you want access to the facilities at the Welcome Centre, such as the toilets, cafe and Playful Garden, you must purchase a ticket. It's also worth supporting this fantastic place by fairly paying for your ticket.

If you want to gain access to the castle, you will need to purchase a ticket and tour from the Welcome Centre.

Is it worth paying for access to the Playful Garden with no kids?

It depends; if you are interested in horticulture, there are a few areas worth visiting, such as the pumpkin patch, wildflowers area, greenhouses and sunflowers. If you visit in spring, a huge collection of daffodils is in bloom. If you aren't interested in plants/gardening, it's probably not worth paying for the Playful Garden.

Is Brodie Countryfare linked to the castle?

No, this privately owned business is located a short walk from the castle. It's a lovely place for shopping and refreshments but unrelated to the castle.

What else is there to do near Brodie Castle?

  • Rait Castle - If you're feeling adventurous, a lovely hidden castle is off the beaten path south of Nairn. Rait Castle can only be accessed via a farmer's track, but it's an excellent little ruin many don't know about.

  • Sueno's Stone and Nelson's Tower - Nearby in Forres, Nelson's Tower and Sueno's Stone are well worth a visit. Sueno's Stone is an ancient Pictish Stone, one of the largest found in Scotland. Nelson's Tower is a memorial tower to Admiral Nelson and gives fantastic views to Findhorn Bay.

  • Kinloss Abbey - This rustic ruin is one of the oldest abbeys in Scotland and can be visited for free as you drive into the town of Kinloss.

  • Cawdor Castle - This brilliant castle can be found southwest of Brodie and has historical links with the Shakespeare play "Macbeth". Cawdor Castle has a great self-guided tour and extensive walled gardens.

  • Further afield - Culloden BattlefieldCulloden ViaductClava CairnsFort George and Randolph's Leap are well worth a visit.

Brodie Castle Videos

Here are a few video clips of our visit to Brodie Castle.

Sunflowers and empty daffodil display.
 
Playful Garden, Orchard and Xylophones.
 
The giant sequioa.
 
The Pond.
 
Forest trail next to the Pond.
 
Near the end of the Pond trail.
 
Bodie Castle grounds.

Key information on Brodie Castle

  • Brodie Castle is located near Forres and is one of West Moray's most famous castles.

  • The castle is easily accessible from the A96 and has a car park and toilets available.

  • The Welcome Centre offers entry to the castle and free tours for National Trust for Scotland members.

  • The castle tour is the highlight of the visit, with notable areas including the Guard Room, Library, Dining room, Bedrooms, Nursery, and Servant accommodation.

  • Beautiful gardens are on the castle grounds, and a walk to the pond is recommended.

  • The castle is now under the stewardship of the National Trust for Scotland and offers events and accommodations.

  • Brodie Castle is open during specific times throughout the year and has different entry prices depending on the area you want to visit.

  • Two cafes are available, one at the Welcome Centre and another behind the castle.

The rose coloured Brodie Castle
A visit to Brodie Castle is a must for tourists and locals.

Conclusion

We enjoyed our day at Brodie Castle; the grounds were beautiful, and the tour was absolutely fascinating. I think we will return with the kids in the new year when Brodie's famous daffodils are in bloom.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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