newsnews & featuresred castle – beware a woman scorned
Red Castle is situated on the east coast of Scotland near Montrose in Angus. It consists of a curtain wall, possibly 13th century, enclosing a 15th century tower house. It was known as Rubeum Castrum or Red Castle on account of its distinctive stone colour.
Between 1579-81 it was besieged under novel circumstances.
Lady Elizabeth Beaton of Red Castle was a widow when James Gray, a younger man, expressed his love for her and they married in 1579. However, it soon became evident that his interest lay in her money and not in her. Moreover he began an affair with her young niece. Upon discovering her new husband's infidelity Elizabeth threw him out and initiated divorce proceedings.
Enraged, James, with the aid of his brother Andrew Gray, set about making her life a misery.
Elizabeth petitioned the Scottish Parliament for help. The following is based upon their records:
The Provost of Dundee gathered a force and lifted the siege but the brothers returned in 1581:
At the second assault the garrison consisted of two men and one woman and the whole castle tower and all, thereafter burnt, both within and without the courtyard.
In June 1581 the Scottish Parliament granted the divorce and as for James Gray it ruled that:
...the aggressor be outlawed and his lands and goods forfeited.
Gray did not long survive this ruling for he was killed in 1586 while brawling in Dundee.
Red Castle remained roofed until 1770 after which one third of the castle slipped into the sea.
At the present the castle is in a perilous condition being undercut by the sea. Historic Environment Scotland is monitoring the situation.
Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.
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