Drumin Castle

Written by Chris Thornton | 30th of August 2023
Drumin Castle

My wife and I were on our way to Drumin Castle after a great day at Ballindalloch Castle, a short distance to the north. The sky was heavy with rain, and as we pulled into the car park for Drumin Castle, the heavens opened, turning into "an affa dreich day".

Drumin Castle was another castle I had no awareness of (like Boyne Castle near Portsoy), despite travelling the A95 for my whole life. It is definitely a hidden gem and worth the 10-15 minute detour from your journey along the A95.

Although we were the first to pull into the car park, other tourists arrived behind us; who would be the first to leave their cars in the torrential downpour and investigate the castle?!

To make things even worse, through the thrashing rain, we saw a sign on the gate.


The castle was closed to visitors and wouldn't be open again until May... but it was June! And it was still closed! Very disappointing, but at least work is being done to maintain these castle ruins. Crown Estate (part of the Scottish Government) seem to be the corporation undertaking the stabilising work on the castle.

A couple in the car next to us was the first to chance the rain. It seems there were two routes to the castle, the direct route with a part that leads through a gate to the left of the car park, and another route ("Circular footpath to castle ruins") which is a longer walk to the castle.

As the sign on the direct route said "castle closed", we thought the circular walk might at least give us a view of the castle from the other side. We should have just taken the direct route as it takes you to the same place as the long walk. Access is blocked to the castle with temporary fencing; we would have saved ourselves a walk in the rain if we had just gone directly to the castle.

The circular footpath was a nice walk, and on a good day, it would have been fantastic, but we got soaked through taking this route.

Pine and larch woodland surrounding Drumin Castle.
The circular walk to Drumin Castle, in the rain!

The Walled Garden

The path led us to the old walled kitchen garden, a well-kept space with cut grass and small trees. You can get a nice view of the castle here in the corner of the garden; there was a large temporary perimeter fence blocking access to the castle.

North west parts of the wall remain.
Access to the walled garden.

Drumin Castle - A 15th Century Fortified Tower House

Sited atop a hilly prominence above the junction of the Livet and Avon rivers, Drumin Castle occupies a supremely strategic site.

Although the exact date of the castle's construction is unknown, it is thought to have replaced an iron age dun and was built in the late 1300s. King Robert II granted the lands of Badenoch and Strathavon to his son Alexander Stewart. Alexander Stewart is considered the castle builder as he would have been the only person with the resources to construct such a castle. He ordered the walls to be more than 2 m thick!

Drumin Castle measures 11.3 m in width and 16.2 m long, with 2.2 - 2.8 m thick walls. Only part of the southwest wall remains but is still impressively tall (four storeys), considering the age of the building. The remaining cross section of the castle gives a great insight into the internal wall surfaces, structure and layout. Many outcrops of stone can be seen, showing where floors would have once existed, including the first-floor hall. A second-floor hall is above, and the remnants of a fine sandstone fireplace survive on the third-floor chamber show that this would have at one time been a fine castle indeed.

The castle is only a large tower house; there are no castellated turrets or curtain walls here like many other castles in Scotland. It still would have been a daunting prospect to raid this castle with its high walls and steep embankments to reach the foot of the castle.

The northwest wall originally had a corbelled parapet, machicolation (a defensive overhang) and a bartizan at the west corner (an overhanging turret).

The castle has a single barrel vaulted cellar measuring 11 m by 6 m.

View from floor level in the gardens.
The only photo I could get due to the fencing and bad weather.

Drumin Castle History

Here is a brief overview of the history of Drumin Castle.

1390s - Alexander Stewart the Wolf of Badenoch

Drumin Castle was one of the many strongholds of the notorious Wolf of Badenoch, known for burning Forres and Elgin, including Elgin Cathedral, in 1390 after a feud with the Bishop of Moray.

Alexander Stewart preferred the island strongholds at Lochindorb Castle and Loch an Eilean Castle. Still, Drumin Castle played its part in his rule of the northeast of Scotland despite never being his permanent residence. So I guess The Wolf preferred the extra protection afforded on an island! The castles at Lochindorb and Loch an Eilean are well well worth your time to explore but can only be accessed by boat... they are both ideal for kayaking!


Sir Walter Stewart, the grandson of Alexander Stewart, rebuilt the castle in the late 1400s, replacing the earlier fortification. He passed the castle to Alexander, 3rd Earl of Huntly, in 1490.


The Grants of Freuchie manage the affairs of the Gordon family, including Drumin Castle.


The Marquis of Argyll stops at Drumin Castle before the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594.


The Stewart family occupied the castle during the 18th century, with Gordon Stewart recorded as the last resident of the castle. Drumin Castle fell into disuse shortly after and slowly decayed over the next 200 years.


A new farmhouse was built for the factor of the Duke of Gordon - William Mitchell. Unfortunately, much of the stone was taken from the ruin of Drumin Castle.


Historic Scotland and The Crown Estate join forces to stabilise the remaining castle ruins.


HRH Prince Andrew officially opened the castle on the 14th of July 2005. Cathy Reid of nearby Drumin Farm was honoured in this ceremony, being the primary supporter of the repairs at Drumin Castle. She has now sadly passed away.


The present castle is undergoing repair work and is set to reopen in the summer months.

Northeast walls
Poor shot of the castle through the perimeter fencing.

How to get to Drumin Castle

If travelling from the north, the castle can be accessed via the A95 by taking a left turn down the B9008. This road will follow the River Avon. Eventually, you will see a right turn for Drumin Castle, marked by a brown tourism sign. Follow this single-track road until you cross a small bridge over the River Livet. The car park is on your right, just past the bridge.

Drumin Castle Car Park

There is a good-sized car park for Drumin Castle with space for maybe twelve cars.

Drumin Castle car park.
The car park at Drumin Castle.

Glenlivet estate information board

In the car park, there is a helpful information board with an expansive map showing all of the walks on the Glenlivet Estate, including the longer Drumin circular walk (2 miles). The panel showcases 15 walks, bike trails, visitor centres, distilleries, castles and battle sites.

Glenlivet Estate information board.
Glenlivet Estate information board.

There is also a separate information board with much information about the castle, including history and an overhead diagram of the walk to the castle, its location, disabled access etc.

Who built Drumin Castle?

Alexander Stewart, The Wolf of Badenoch, is credited as the castle's builder. He was the only one with the resources and power capable of building the castle at this time, and it was known to be a castle within his control.

Does Drumin Castle have disabled access?

Not via the two paths from the car park; access is allowed via the farm for disabled people only.

Is there anything worth visiting nearby Drumin Castle?

Yes, the following places are great to visit before or after your visit to Drumin castle:

Conclusion - we will be back!

Despite the bad weather and only being able to get a glimpse of the castle from the walled garden, it was still a nice little adventure to Drumin Castle. We will definitely return in better weather and when the castle repairs have been completed. I will update this article in the future! Nearby Blairfindy Castle and the Old Bridge of Livet will also be on the agenda.  Please check out my dedicated guide to castles in Moray.

The best part of the day was gone, and it was no fun in the rain, so we decided to head for Aviemore and spend the night at the Cairngorm Hotel. Drumin Castle had been a great addition to my 40th birthday tour of central Scotland.

Drumin Castle location map

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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