Unfortunately, Strathbrock Castle no longer exists, and little or nothing of its site remains. 18th and 19th century sources indicate that the remains of the castle were located on a small circular hillock (possibly a motte) called Castle Hill, just to the South of Broadyetts Farm, which also no longer exists.
The location of the castle, just on the south side of Uphall's Main Street, was built over for residential purposes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, a possible embankment on the north side of the Brox Burn is still discernible.
One of the earliest appearances of the castle in history is in the 12th century, when the lands of Strathbrock were granted by David I to a Fleming called Freskyn. In 1130, he aided David I in suppressing an uprising in Moray by the Alpin nobles, and was subsequently granted lands in Morayshire at Duffus (1150) and also in Glen Fiddich, where he built further castles. He was also instrumental in repelling a late Viking invasion of Sutherland. Freskyn's descendants included the powerful Murray nobles of Atholl and Sutherland, from his two sons, Hugh and William, respectively, the latter adopting the name "de Moravia".
By the 15th century, Strathbrock Castle passed into Douglas hands, as did the nearby Abercorn Castle, but suffered the same fate as many of their castles during the dynastic civil war between the Black Douglas and James II. Unlike Abercorn, however, something of Strathbrock appears to have survived the Douglas defeats, and in the 16th century, it was owned by one J. Dingwall, rector of the nearby Strathbrock Parish Kirk.
One local tradition claims that during the 17th century, the bodies of Plague victims were thrown into the cellars or dungeons of the increasingly derelict castle. Although little was left of the castle by the 19th century, the 1845 Statistical Account of Scotland nevertheless states that the Earl of Buchan's lands in this area included "the estate of Strathbrock", which was separate to the estate of the Shairps of Houstoun House, at the very top of Uphall.
Another local tradition claims that two pineapple or acorn-shaped decorated stone (presumably decorative gate-posts) now in the grounds of Houstoun House are the sole surviving remnants of Strathbrock Castle.
It does seem likely that these two stones did come from Strathbrock Castle, being carved in a style more medieval than the later Renaissance date of Houstoun House (c. 1600), where they are now located. Furthermore, it seems likely that the sole known remaining fragment of the other Douglas castle at Abercorn is a similar gatepost stone, now used as such at a private house near Abercorn. We would certainly expect that, both castles being in the hands of the same family towards the end of their functional use, they would demonstrate shared characteristics of ornamentation and even, perhaps, similar structural extensions.
This article is reproduced from a website which was originally published by the late Dr Steve Sweeney-Turner.
- Strathbrock or The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Uphall (1898) by Rev James Primrose
- CANMORE (National Record of the Historic Environment): https://canmore.org.uk/site/49274/strathbrock-castle
- Historic Environment Scotland: http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB49642
- George Boag, "Parish of Uphall" (1843), in The New Statistical Account of Scotland (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1834-45)