Battle to save Angus castle from ‘disappearing’ into sea

It was left in ruins after being attacked by a rejected husband almost 450 years ago - now there are concerns that Red Castle near Lunan Bay in Angus may simply “disappear” into the sea given the centuries of being unloved that followed.

The ruin of Red Castle above Lunan Bay. Picture : Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland
The ruin of Red Castle above Lunan Bay. Picture : Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland

An investigation was launched into the safety of the castle remains, which stand on a mound overlooking the North Sea, after residents aired their concerns over the state of the stronghold and the safety of those visiting the crumbling landmark.

Today, erosion of both the sandstone structure and the mound on which it stands can be clearly seen.

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

However, following a dangerous buildings inspection, Angus Council said there had been no obvious deterioration since the last checks were carried out three years ago.

Councillor Derek Wann, Conservative member for Arbroath East and Lunan, who raised the issue on behalf of constituents, said: “The building has not considerably deteriorated since it was last inspected in 2016.

“It is, however, a concern to us all that such a historic landmark may eventually disappear.

“I would certainly say it is worth saving. The history and story behind the castle is of huge importance to this area.”

The castle, a scheduled monument, was first built for King William the Lion in the late 12th century to offer protection from coastal attack.

The sandstone remains that can be seen today date from the 15th century keep built by the Stewarts of Innermeath after it was sold by the Earl of Ross, who was gifted the castle by Robert the Bruce.

In 1579, the wedding took place between the castle’s owner, Lady Elizabeth Beaton, and James, son of Lord Gray, but he was quickly kicked out of Red Castle after it emerged he had fallen in love with his new wife’s daughter. For two years, he mounted a series of attacks on the stronghold, leaving it badly damaged and on the road to ruin.

Councillor Wann stressed to anyone trying to access the caste site that it “should be done with great care” given the condition of the structure and surrounding land, which is owned by an Arbroath-based businessman.

A spokeswoman for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We encourage the positive management of scheduled monuments, such as Red Castle, and provide management advice to owners and occupiers of scheduled monuments.”