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(Or Auchinleck Castle)


Please note that the castle is not open to the public.

Link to Dundee City Council Homepage

 The text of the following article is from item 224(24) of the 'Lamb Collection' held at the WELLGATE LIBRARY (Local History Department) in Dundee, Scotland.  The booklet consists of, what appears to be, old newspaper clippings which appear to have been affixed to an old, used, library returns book, or similar dating, from WW II.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to identify the original source of these writings, which were in a serialised form in the clippings.  After  conversation with staff at the library it seems reasonable to assume that the original article may have been produced in a limited circulation, possibly subscription, periodical, around 1850.  The clippings might arise from this original being reprinted in (possibly) The Dundee Courier & Argus newspaper some time after that date.

* Some text has been coloured red where it tends to give an indication of the date or timescale of the original writing.
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The estate or barony of Auchinleck, now small in extent in comparison to what it once was, lies towards the West and North side of the parish of Monikie, of which we have said something in a former paper, about a mile West of the parish church, and about ten miles North and East from Dundee, and close to the West side of the great reservoir that supplies that town with water. The parish of Monikie is the most northern of the Presbytery of Dundee, and is about as far distant from the Presbytery seat in this direction as Kinnaird, in Perthshire, is in a western line.  The name Auchinleck, provincially pronounced Affleck, is from the Gaelic, and is said to signify the "Field of Stones".

The Castle or Tower, a fine old building, stands upon the high grounds towards the middle of the parish, on the north side.  It consists of a double tower of considerable elevation, and of excellent masonry; but from its arrangement and style of building it had never been intended for a place of strength , in the military sense of the word.  It is still entire, and is, or was not long ago, used as a granary and for other purposes connected with agriculture, to which it had been applied since the erection of the modern mansion-house, which stands close beside it.  On the top of one of the towers there is a flag-staff, but its use is not for displaying abroad an ensign of defiance, but for hoisting a signal for gathering the reapers to their healthful labours in the jocund time of harvest.  At what time and by whom it was erected there is apparently no record.  In the reign of James I the estate was the property of a family designed from it "of that Ilk", but all that we know regarding it is, that in or about the year 1480, Sir John Auchinleck, Knight, at that time the proprietor, married a daughter of Sir John Boswell of Balmullo, in Fife, who after his death, was married to Durham of Grange of Monifieth.  The year was 1480 however is too old a date for the erection of the Castle, which might have been, as no doubt it was, erected by one of his descendants before the estate was alienated from the family.  Be that as it may, the Castle was inhabited so late as 1746, and for some years later.  Before and at that period it was, along with a considerable extent of the territory of the ancient barony, the property of a family of the name of Read (or Reid), that had acquired opulence as merchants in Dundee.

This family was attainted for being connected with the rebellion in 1745, and as the estate was forfeited, it was severed into parcels and sold to different purchasers.  Many years ago we were informed by a respectable aged person, whose grandmother when a young woman was waiting maid to Mrs. Read, that on espying he officers of the law, with a military party accompanying them, approaching to take possession of the castle and lands, they both secreted plate to a considerable value about their persons, and unmolested by the officers, who had to much gallantry or feeling to meddle with or insult two unfortunate and unprotected women, proceeded to Dundee on foot, a distance of about ten miles.  Mr. Read had succeeded in effecting his escape to France after the Battle of Culloden (1745), where his lady and family joined him, but whether they availed themselves of the Act of Grace that was afterwards published, to come home and make their submission, is not certainly known, neither would the knowledge be of any particular value now after the lapse of more than a hundred years.

Thomas Read of Auchinleck, who was either the father of the laird who was forfeited, or the forfeiter himself, presented a silver communion cup to the Kirk Session of Dundee in the year 1733, which gift , along with a great many others of various kinds and donors, was recorded in gilt letters on the west wall of the session house, where it was to be seen until the destruction of the churches by fire on the 3rd January 1841.  We would consider the forfeiter to have been the son of the donor of the cup, principally upon this account, that people are generally pretty far advanced in years and verging upon dotage, before the devout idea of bribing heaven by making gifts to the Church takes possession of their minds.  Some time after the forfeiture of Mr. Read, the castle with a large part of the estate, was purchased by James Yeaman, merchant in and one of the bailies of Dundee; and a few years ago the late Mr. Stirling Graham of Kincaldrum purchased the same from his descendants.  After acquiring the estate the bailie probably in the estate, at least during part of the year; but after the erection of the present modern mansion-house, a plain, unpretending, modest, white-washed building, which was built by one of his successors, the castle as a residence was deserted.



Part of the barony of Auchinleck was sold about or not long after the beginning of last century, but whether by any of the Reads or a previous proprietor we are unable to state.  The purchaser was Henry Smith, second son of Henry Smith of Glaswell and Canno or Camno, near Kirriemuir.  This gentleman, who died in 1726, gave the name of Smithfield to the lands he had purchased, by which name they have ever since been known.  His son John, second of Smithfield, married Margaret, daughter of William Douglas, Provost of Forfar, and ancestor of the family of Douglas of Brigton, in the parish of Kinnettles.  Provost Douglas was the son of Dr. Robert Douglas, Bishop of Brechin, and afterwards Bishop of Dunblane, to which he was translated in 1684, in which See he continued until deprived by the Revolution in 1688.  He died at Dundee on the 22nd September 1716, in the 91st  year of his age.  John Smith and Margaret Douglas had an only child, Catherine, who married John Fyffe of the family of Dron, merchant and banker in Edinburgh, and by the death of their son, --- Fyffe, a few years ago, who was a merchant in Glasgow, the estate devolved upon Major David Fyffe of the Lodge, Broughty Ferry, who is representative of the family.  The Major married one of the daughters of the late Robert Douglas, senior, of Brigton, a descendant of the Bishop of Dunblane, and through him of the Douglases, formerly Earls of Angus.

Please note that the castle is not open to the public.

You can read more about the castle in some of the OLD BOOK EXTRACTS.

Another local building called HYND CASTLE.

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This page was updated - 21 July, 2011