Blaeu Atlas of Scotland

As one of only three Ellon buildings worthy of mention, the Bleau Atlas highlights the importance of Ardgrain in the 1600's

 "...on the other bank is the parochial village of Ellon, close to which are Abbotshall, Ardgrain, and Auchterellon, castles or houses of the Forbeses, the Kennedies and the Udnies respectively..."

Ardgrain was an important symbol of Baronial rule when built by the Kennedy family in 1629. The Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, published in 1662, describes all of Buchan, and includes Ardgrain as one of only three buildings near Ellon important enough to warrant inclusion.

Blaeu Translation

The below translation is from Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1662, page 108-109, reproduced from the National Library of Scotland online archive.


Buchan begins at the mouth of the Deveron, stretching along the coast to the east to the beginning of the gulf of Varar, where the coast turns south. Its boundary inland is uncertain, some thinking that it ends with the Riven Don in the south, others do not take it beyond the River Ythan, the rest being called Formartin.

The whole of Buchan is plains or hills, totally given up to crops and agriculture, irrigated by innumerable rivers, with no mountains - one alone is higher than the others (it is called Mormond), scarcely equal to a moderate hill in the interior. Nowhere in the whole kingdom can one see an equal area of ground that is level and free of mountains. But to set out details as one goes along the coast from Banff to the east, one sees Cullen, where is the house of the Barclays, Barons of Towy; there follows Troup built (at the sea) on a rock in an isthmus, now deserted; next is Pennan on the coast, where there is a well-known vein of mill-stones, which are exported in great numbers far and wide.

Blaeu Atlas of ScotlandBlaeu Atlas of Scotland

Next is Pitsligo, a castle of the Lord of Parliament from the family of Forbes; close to it is Pittulie, a country house of the Barons of Philorth; then after the country house of Fingask comes the small promontory of Kinnaird Head, and at it the small town of Fraserburgh, where fifty years ago Alexander Fraser, illustrious Knight, Baron of Philorth, built the town and increased the place with freedoms granted by the king. He also at great expense set a large mass of stone in the Ocean, first in a less suitable place, and later he moved the works elsewhere and built up the harbour; hence the place became more frequented.

Two miles on occurs Cairnbulg, a castle of the Parliamentary Lords of Mulcol. That is followed by Inverallochy, likewise a castle of the Frasers. Now the coast begins to bend southwards, where there is a small bay Strathbeg, once well known for its harbour, now almost covered in sand; traces remain here of the town of Rattray, which are now following the fate of the harbour.

Our historian Boece is surprised that this river alone does not admit salmon, but there is nothing here that would accept large fish, except two muddy streams so lacking in water that they scarcely have equal trout. There is nothing more on this coast worthy of mention until the mouth of the Ugie occurs. The Ugie flows from two sources in two rivers, quite small; on the one which tends more to the north is Strichen, a country house of the Frasers; on the other Fedderate, a castle of the Irvines, and near it Brucklay, ditto; they are from the family of Drum.

On the road away from the river is Nethermuir which belongs to the Gordons, but following the river is Clackriach which is a country house of the Keiths. Not far from there, in a low valley once totally wooded, are the ruins of the once rich Monastery of Deer, and a mile from there on a bend of the river is the village of Deer with its church. A mile from the river are Kinmundy and Ludquharn, the former a country house of the Gordons, the latter of the Keiths.

Not far from here the rivers join, and now close to the Ocean pass the castle of Craig, and on the opposite bank Inverugie at the mouth, both heritable possessions of the Earl Marischal. Inverugie is a quite magnificent castle, in an excellent situation, whether convenience from sea, river or land is considered. That earl, the hereditary Marshal of the kingdom, who in these places as owner of many estates far and wide, has greater power than any other, is the head of the family of Keith, which seeks its origin in the Picts; although they were driven many centuries ago from their ancestral seats and kingdom, it is not incredible that many survived. This illustrious house also holds no small amount of land in Mar and the Mearns.

Two miles from here the promontory of Taezalum is seen, today known as Buchan Ness, the farthest east point of coastline in the whole kingdom. At it is the small town of Peterhead, a place suited to maritime ac the Riven Ythan follows, which enters the sea through sandy ground; hence no little damage is done to the very fertile neighbouring fields, of which no small part has been covered with sand and lost through fierce winds. The mouth of this river is bent to the south, and the daily tide of the Ocean enters it to a greater degree than in any others on this coast, although they have a strong flow of water; there is however no convenience from this to the security of the harbour, which may be entered only by smaller ships.

Going up the river, which flows through a cultivated and productive region, there occur on the left Foveran Castle, the fishing village of Newburgh, and Knockhall Castle, and on the other side a mile from the river Forvie, both of which are owned by John Udny; on the other bank is the parochial village of Ellon, close to which are Abbotshall, Ardgrain, and Auchterellon, castles or houses of the Forbeses, the Kennedies and the Udnies respectively; opposite on the other bank is Esslemont Castle of the Earl of Errol, and above it Park of Kelly and going farther up on the opposite bank Gight, which are two castles of the Gordons. Here the banks of the river are clothed with trees, which is rare in these parts.

There follows Fyvie, a magnificent and lovely castle, which belongs to the Earl of Dunfermline. Above this Towy Castle of the Barclays is seen, close to which is Bucholly, belonging to the Mowats, but it does not lie on the river.

There follows Turriff, which is watered by a small river, soon after merging into the Deveron. The village is the most beautiful in all these parts, in a location most suitable for hunting and hawking; around it are many noblemen's castles, houses and country houses, of which the principal are Delgatie and Craigston, castles of the Hays and Urquharts respectively, and on the bank of the Deveron Iden, and not far from there the ruins of an old monument, set in a safe site on a small river, the work of the English in the time of Edward I, from which comes the name of the place King Edward. To go through the rest would be tedious and useless.

Popular Ardgrain history articles:

The will of Robert Innes (1534)

Ancient texts taken from the Charter Chest at Ellon describing the Ardgrain lands in 1534

Taken from Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff (Vol III) 1857 - Page 33.  Read more » 

Virgil Quotation and Ardgrain Motto

Discover why a quote from the Roman poet and author, Virgil, was carved above the Ardgrain doors


The Virgil Quote

Carved into a weathered stone, directly above the main double doors at Ardgrain, is a quotation taken from the classical Roman poet and author, Virgil.  Read more » 

Aberdeen to Fraserburgh Road

The road that leads to Ardgrain was once the main Aberdeen to Fraserburgh route, which passed through the market town of Ellon before winding its way northwards

The main Fraserburgh road would have been a prominent position to site a Baronial house like Ardgrain, commanding views down the hill towards Ellon and beyond. Centuries after Ardgrain was built, a new road was to Fraserburgh was constructed, a few miles away.  Read more »