Brodick Castle is a castle situated outside the port of Brodick
on the Isle of Arran, an island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland.
It was previously a seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, but is now
owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
A fortress has
been on the site since at least the fifth century, when Gaelic
invaders from Antrim expanded their kingdom of Dál Riata. By the
tenth century Norse influence had grown, and Arran formed part
of Sudreys or Súđreyjar, administered either from Dublin or the
Orkney islands (Nordreys or Norđreyjar) and nominally under the
control of The King of Norway. This can be deduced by the number
of Scandinavian place-names on the island including Brodick, or
Breiđvík (Broad Bay). The site is thought to have been a centre
of relative importance, on account of its strategic position on
the Firth of Clyde.
By the mid-thirteenth century Arran was part of the Kingdom of
Mann and the Isles ruled by two Gall Gaidheal kings, Magnus of Mann
and Dougal of the Isles, sub-rulers of Hákon Hákonarson, King of
Norway. Alexander III of Scotland had inherited his father's desire
to control the islands in order to stabilise his kingdom, and made
numerous unsuccessful advances to that effect. In 1262 the Earl of
Ross sacked and pillaged Skye with the king's blessing. King Hákon
determined to avenge this slight and set out in July 1263, with a
large fighting fleet (leiđangr) for Scotland. After linking up with
the fleets of Magnus and Dougal, and showing his might throughout
the Hebrides, Hákon's force anchored in Lamlash Bay on Arran, where
they were approached by envoys from the Scots King. The Scots envoys
were unsuccessful, and battle was engaged at Largs, a short distance
across the firth. Although no rout, the Scots were victorious, and
Hákon's forces retreated to Arran, and thence to Orkney to
over-winter, where Hákon died. The ensuing Treaty of Perth in 1266
ceded the Sudreys to the Kingdom of Scotland.
Alexander III and his heir, Margaret, Maid of Norway died, the
Kingdom of Scots was thrown into turmoil. In 1291, Edward I of
England, was called on to choose the most suitable successor. John
de Balliol was chosen and was forced to admit Edward as his
suzerain. John defied Edward in 1295, and did not answer his request
for assistance in his war in France. Edward invaded Scotland the
following year and forced John to abdicate. At some point around
this time an English garrison was stationed at Brodick. During
Robert the Bruces's time in hiding, following his escape from the
English after his coronation and defeat at the Battle of Methven, he
is said to have had his legendary encounter with a spider on Arran.
On the behest of Robert the Bruce,
James Douglas, Lord of
Douglas, early in the winter of 1307 previous to their attack on
Carrick, attacked forces supplying Brodick castle giving a first
minor victory and gaining their forces much needed supplies.
He was able in 1307 to dislodge the English from Brodick, one of the
first castles to fall to him in his struggle to regain his country.
In 1406 – the same year that James I was captured by English
pirates and Robert III died – the castle was badly damaged by an
English force that had sailed into Brodick bay. Further destruction
was inflicted by John of Islay, Lord of the Isles, in 1455. At some
point after 1470 the castle was granted by James III to his
brother-in-law, James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton. His son, James
Hamilton, 2nd Lord Hamilton was created Earl of Arran in 1503. At
this point Hamilton added the Lymphad of the Isles to his Armorial
The castle had been rebuilt by the Earl by 1510 in
the form of a tower house, but suffered at the hands of the
Campbells and the MacLeans. During the "Rough Wooing" of Mary, Queen
of Scots, Brodick castle was attacked by an English force led by the
Earl of Lennox on behalf of Henry VIII, in revenge for the actions
of the 2nd Earl. Lord Arran was the Regent of Scotland whilst Mary
was in her infancy, and was second in line to the Scots throne. In
1543, he had been heavily involved in arranging the marriage of Mary
to the Dauphin of France, prior to this she had been promised to
Edward, Prince of Wales. Arran was rewarded for his efforts,
however, and was created Duke of Châtellerault in the Peerage of
France. During Regent Arran's tenure at Brodick he continued to
enlarge and expand the castle.
Brodick Castle did not escape
the religious paroxysms that affected seventeenth century life. In 1639, Scotland was divided
between the Presbyterianism of the Lords of the Congregation, and
the Episcopalianism favoured by King Charles I. James Hamilton, 3rd
marquess of Hamilton, the King's advisor on all things Scottish, was
sent north to enforce the King's will, he had previously dissolved
the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland when they had
abolished the Episcopacy. Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of
Argyll, was the de facto ruler of Scotland and leader of the
presbyterian faction. Argyll seized Hamilton's castle of Brodick.
Hamilton was made a Duke in 1643 and recovered his castle the
following year at the outbreak of the Scottish Civil War. It was
lost again to the Campbells in 1646, as the Royalists fortunes
foundered. The Duke was captured after the disastrous Battle of
Preston, and faced the block in March 1649. He was succeeded by his
brother William, Earl of Lanark, but the second Duke died of wounds
received at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The Duchy of Hamilton
and Earldom of Arran passed to the first Duke's only surviving
child, Anne. She had been unwittingly sent to Brodick for safety. In
1650, Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads had taken control of the castle
and had extended it by building an Artillery battery to defend the
Firth at this strategic position.
Duchess Anne returned to
her estates in Lanarkshire and West Lothian and in 1656 married
William Douglas, 1st Earl of Selkirk. Anne did not return to Brodick,
however her husband the newly created Duke of Hamilton for life,
used the castle as a base for hunting excursions.
following years Brodick was used mainly as an occasional sporting
estate. In the nineteenth century, it became residence for the
eldest son of the 10th Duke, styled the Marquess of Douglas and
William, 11th Duke of Hamilton married in 1843,
Princess Marie of Baden, youngest daughter of the Grand Duke of
Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais, adopted daughter of Napoleon
Bonaparte. In 1844, massive building work was undertaken at the
castle, almost tripling the size of the building, under the
architect James Gillespie Graham. The Twelfth Duke, William had no
male heirs, so although his titles passed to his distant cousin
Alfred Douglas-Hamilton upon his death, he entailed the castle upon
his only daughter the Lady Mary Louise Douglas-Hamilton. She married
James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose in 1906, and so after more than
five hundred years Brodick castle passed out of the Hamilton family.
The older part of the castle is said to be haunted by a "Grey
Lady" who starved to death in the dungeons of the castle because she
had the plague. A man has been reportedly seen sitting in the
library and a White Deer is reputedly seen in the grounds of the
castle whenever a chief of the Hamiltons is close to death.
The Castle and gardens were acquired by the National Trust for
Scotland from the Lady Jean Fforde in 1958, in lieu of death duties
upon the death of her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Montrose. The
castle is open to the public during the summer, with Brodick Country
Park open all year round.
Since 1987, an illustration of the
castle has featured on the reverse side of twenty pound notes issued
by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The 1998 film The Governess, starring
Minnie Driver, was filmed at Brodick Castle.
Bee boles can be
seen in the Walled Garden, which was built in 1710.
Any contributions will be
Errors and Omissions
We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas
If you spot errors, or omissions, then
please do let us know
If you have met a brick wall
with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives
Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!
You may also be able to help others answer their queries.
Douglas Archives Forum.
||We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our
What's New section on the
We also use
Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the