Duffus Castle is one of the finest examples of a motte and bailey castle in Scotland with a 14thC stone keep and curtain wall. It stands as a landmark in the surrounding flat and very fertile farmland. In September the harvest was well underway and there was the characteristic smell of newly cut straw.
The castle was originally on the shores of Loch Spynie and surrounded by water and marshy ground. The area has been drained but the ditch around the outer bailey is still wet and marshy with duckweed and horsetails.
We parked at the end of the road by a large farm and admired the view of the motte with the 14thC stone tower. Unfortunately the 12thC motte was never intended to take the weight of a stone structure and part of the north west wall collapsed down the slope. The castle was eventually abandoned in the early 18thC in favour of the newly built Duffus house.
We followed the ditch round the outer bailey to the small, single arch stone bridge which was the main route into the castle. There are the foundations of a guard tower to the side of it. A cobbled roadway leads up a raised causeway to the castle. The outer bailey is now a large grassy area. There is no trace left of the stables, bakehouses and workshops built here.
The inner bailey is surrounded by a stone curtain wall with the remains of storage areas, kitchen, great hall and great chamber. These would have become the main residence after the tower collapsed. Originally a single storey building, it was converted into a two storey building with vaulted basement and upper floors reached by a stone staircase after the tower collapsed.
There is a smaller ditch round the motte and new wooden stairs lead up to the tower. Entry is though a round top door into the portcullis chamber, still with its grooves. On the right was the porter’s lodge with a latrine at the end of the corridor. To the left are the remains of the stone stairs to the upper floors. The basement was used for storage with the hall above.
The inside of the tower is now roofless. There are good views of the collapsed north west corner, complete with its latrine shaft. We could also see signs of collapse in the windows on the south wall.
It is possible to park, take a picture of the castle and move on. However if time allows it is worth walking to find the medieval bridge and also going up into the tower to look at the collapse. Enttry is free and the castle open daylight hours.
It is a good place to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the view.