Dudhope Castle in Dundee has deemed “surplus to requirements” by Dundee City Council with it now earmarked for sale as the local authority tries to balance “huge costs” in light of the pandemic.
The original castle was built in the late 1300s and later remodelled in the 16th Century, with the pile mirroring the rich history of the city and the powerful figures who called it home.
Once the home of the Scrymgeour family, who were appointed Constables of Dundee by William Wallace, it was later lived in by Jacobite leader John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee.
Also known as ‘Bonnie Dundee’ he led from the front at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and died on the field as Jacobite victory was secured.
Dudhope was later used as a military barracks, with the Black Watch leaving for World War One from the castle, with it then serving the city people with a variety of functions and attractions, including a little zoo, aviary and gymnasium.
The council, who used part of it as office space until recent times, said it is no longer required with a report to councillors suggesting it could be sold on as a hotel, offices or housing.
Adam Swan, of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, said Dudhope was “Dundee’s Castle” with more vision required for its future given the city’s ongoing commitment to regeneration and attracting investment.
Mr Swan said: “It is not so much the selling of it that is the problem, it is the future use of it that is important.
"People of Dundee have a great affinity to the castle and it was a great community resource for many years.
"There is a great potential here. If the council can attract the V&A and the Eden Project to Dundee the surely a better use for Dudhope than a hotel or offices can be found.”
It is understand that few, if any, historic items relating to Dudhope have survived given the multiple uses of the building over time.
A petition by new group Friends of Dudhope Castle calls for the building to be run as a tourist attraction and has attracted more than 1,300 signatures.
Councillor John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, in a recent letter to the group, said officers have been asked to explore opportunities with Historic Scotland as well as options for a community transfer or lease of the building.
He added: “As a council, this fantastic building no longer works for us as an office environment, and we must consider how we can protect the integrity of the Castle whilst also not landing the city with a significant cost which is unsustainable. I know that you'll appreciate that as we wrestle with the realities of covid-19, the council is trying to balance huge costs with vital services such as education and poverty support.”
“The Castle has not, in my lifetime, been open to the public, nor has it performed any historical public facing role. That is not to say that it cannot do so in the future and I really do welcome the range of ideas and suggestions that have come forward.”