A headland on the North Sea coast of Aberdeenshire, Cairnbulg
Point is located just northwest of Inverallochy at the western
end of Fraserburgh Bay. The old fishing village of Cairnbulg
stands southeast of the headland.
Cairnbulg Castle (shown above) is a historic fortified tower
house dating back to the 13th century. The castle stands beside
the River Philorth, and indeed, it was originally called
The castle was founded by the Comyns, Earls of Buchan, sometime
in the late 13th century, at a time when this area of north-east
Scotland was under almost constant Norse threat. Though it is
now well inland, at the time it was built the castle probably
occupied a strategic position guarding coastal approaches.
The stretch of land now between the castle and the coast
gradually filled in with sand and silt over the course of time,
leaving the castle a long walk from the shore.
The castle was destroyed by Robert the Bruce during his
'Harrying of Buchan', following the Comyn's unsuccessful bid for
the throne. The castle was granted to the Earls of Ross, and
Joanna, daughter of the 5th Earl, helped restore the castle
after her marriage to Sir Alexander Fraser of Cowie in 1375.
They built the imposing tower which forms the central part of
the castle we can see today. Sometime in the 16th century a
second tower, this time in round shape, and several wings were
The Frasers of Philorth sold Cairnbulg in 1613 to pay off debts,
and it passed through the hands of several branches of the
Fraser clan, until in 1775 it passed to George, 3rd Earl of
Aberdeen, who stripped it of building materials and furnishings
to use on a number of other houses in the area in which he
installed his mistresses.
By the late Victorian period the castle was a ruin, but then its
fortunes changed. It was purchased by the Duthie family, wealthy
shipbuilders of Aberdeen. Sir John Duthie restored the castle,
and then in 1934 it was bought by Lord Saltoun, direct
descendant of the 8th Laird. And so the castle has come [almost]
full circle, back to the Fraser family.
Cairnbulg Castle houses a rich collection of portraits,
including one of every laird dating back to 1570, and most of
their family members and relations as well. As such, it is a
valuable collection of family history and a source of
information about fashion and art styles over the past four
centuries or more.