Hagberry Pot, on the River Ythan near Fyvie, is overlooked by Gight Castle, a desolate, crumbling wreck which was latterly the ancestral home of Romantic poet “mad,bad” Lord Byron.
In 1644, Gight came under siege from Covenanters in 1644 and the 7th Laird of Gight is said to have flung his gold into the pool, named after the Hagberry trees which lined the river banks, to protect his fortune.
Once the Covenanters cleared Gight Castle, the Laird ordered a diver to retrieve the gold and sent him to the Pot.
The diver, according to the story, returned empty handed and claiming to have seen the devil. The diver was tortured by the Laird after refusing to return to the water.
After his punishment, he is claimed to have said: “I’d rather face the diel himself, than face the laird of Gight.”
The diver went back to the pool with only his quartered body returning to the surface, his beating heart still on show.
The story may well have been embellished over time but Gight Castle has long had a bleak reputation given that members of the owning Gordon family had a history of premature and often violent death.
William Gordon, 3rd son of the 2nd Early of Huntly, died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. His son died during the Rough Wooing conflicts in 1547 and then three of his grandsons and a son-in-law were murdered. A fourth grandson was executed by the Crown. A fifth grandson drowned and two more were killed fighting in Holland and Flanders.
The property became part of Lord Byron’s inheritance after he was born to the 14th laird, Catherine Gordon, and her husband John Byron.
However, the “mad, bad and dangerous” young peer did not inherit the castle as it was sold to the Earl of Aberdeen in 1787 to pay off his father’s gambling debts.
In Byron’s Women by Alexander Larman, both the reputations of the Gordon and Gight Castle are clearly cast.
Larman said: “It was always said that the Gordons walked with the devil. Gight Castle was a bleak, miserable place that had been built in the 16th Century and had been the target of whispering of witchcraft and ill-doing ever since.”
Gight was purchased by the Earl of Aberdeen for his son, Lord Haddo. However, he died in a riding accident and castle has been in decline since.
It sits in the ground of the Haddo House estate.