Huntly is considered one of the “noblest baronial mansions” in Scotland. It is the fortified residence of one of the most powerful families, the Earls (and later Marquises) of Huntly.
Originally there was a 12th century motte castle on the grounds, you can still see some of the mound. The first stone castle built here was at the end of the 14th century. An older castle here, then called Strathbogie, was built by the Macduff Earls of Fife on a nearby mound, and passed ot the Gordons early in the 14th century. Robert the Bruce stayed here before defeating the Earl of Buchan nearby in 1307. The old castle was burned down in 1452 by the Douglas Earl of Moray, and the first Earl of Huntly put up the ‘new werk’ in the mid-15th century just to the south of the auld-werk (the large tower). While this is now in ruins, the shape is easy to see — a rectangular block with wall about 8 feet thick. In 1496, Perkin Warbrek, pretender ot the English throne, married Catherine Gordon here in the presence of James IV.
In 1506, the name was changed from Strathbogie to Huntly. The castle was slighted in 1562 after the death (from apoplexy) of the 4th Earl. The castle was restored, but was attacked by James VI and damaged in 1594 then restored again in 1602. The 2nd Marquis of Huntly was hanged for his support of Charles I and in 1640 the castle was occupied by the Covenanters, who destroyed much of the interior, including defacing much of the stonework of religious images. In 1644, it was takine by the forces of Montrose. It was garrisoned by Hanoverian soldiers until 1745, but by then was abandoned as a residence. It was then used as a quarry and dump until cleared in 1923.
A courtyard adjoining the tower had ranges of buildings on two sides. From the entrance, a straight stair leads down to the vaulted bsaement, which contains three cellars and a prison in the large round tower. The hall is on the first floor and contains many fine fireplaces.
The five story tower has an interesting oriel windows, and the facade above and below the windows has an inscription bearing the name of the first Earl of Huntly and his wife.