Visit Ellon and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, which was the ancient “capital” of Buchan, but is now almost wholly a creation of the 19th and 20th centuries, presents to the world a most attractive southern front, with its crisp granite buildings lining its riverside. And yet its church, its square, and its castle stand roughly where they did in the Middle Ages.
One vanished ingredient of the ancient town plan was the Moot Hill, which stood opposite the West end of the New Inn, in a position now occupied by a small garden enclosure. On its mound rose the timbered motte of the Norman castle, where under the rule of the Comyn Earls of Buchan, in the 13th century, the burgh of barony was organized. The motte was no doubt placed there to control the bridge, which, we can hardly doubt, spanned the Ythan at the very same point as it does now. The Moot Hill has gone, but Ellon still looks into the sun, and it is sheltered from the North by the bold river terrace upon which the oldest part of the surviving Elton Castle, once the fortalice of Ardgith, has stood for 400 years.
It is one of the ironies of history that the triumph of Robert Bruce in the Wars of Independence, which meant new prosperity and valued endowments to the city of Aberdeen, l6½ miles South, meant for Ellon an end of old greatness, with the downfall of the Comyns and the subsequent Harrying of Buchan.
After much destruction, rebuilding, and decay, the Ellon Castle estate was bought by Bailie James Gordon of Edinburgh in 1706. While you stand on the terrace and look out over one of the finest landscape gardens in the country, Bailie Gordon should be remembered, for he created this marvel. The terrace, 190 yds long and 15 yds wide, is held up by a massive stone retaining wall, 18 ft high. In the garden below is a grass lawn nearly 100 yds deep and 90 yds broad, crossed by paths; between them stand fifteen huge yew trees. Bounding the lawns on either side of the trees are clipped yew hedges 7 to 8 ft high.
Bailie Gordon's two sons were murdered by their tutor, and his widow sold the property to George, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen.
This remarkable man, sometimes called the “Wicked Earl”, who was a splendid estate manager, bought three great houses, Ellon and Cairnbulg Castles in Aberdeenshire, and Wiscombe Park in Devon, settled a brown-eyed mistress in each, and raised three flourishing families. The lady he installed at Ellon was Penelope Dering, a young girl who hailed from the village of Pett in Sussex. In 1782 he commissioned the architect John Baxter to add two great wings to the old Castle. By the time Alexander, the son of Penelope, succeeded to this great mansion, it was considered beyond repair. But more of it now survives than of its successor. The home of the present owner of Ellon Castle, Sir Edward Reid, was originally the stables and servants' quarters of the earl's Castle of 1782.
In 1783 was built Ellon's first modern bridge over the Ythan. It still stands there, though derelict and by-passed by the road leading to the present-day bridge. Ellon became a police burgh in 1893, and today is increasingly popular as a residential centre. It has good fishing and a golf course. The Episcopal Church of St Mary's on the Rock, on high land overlooking the South bank of the Ythan, was built in 1875 to designs by Sir George Street. It is the inheritor of a series of Episcopal meeting houses, the first of which was built in 1713 and demolished by a posse of soldiers in 1746 in the heat of the anti-Jacobite reaction.
Some 4 miles North Northwest of Ellon is Arnage Castle, a charming old tower-house in finely wooded policies in the vale of the Ebrie, a tributary of the Ythan which is a famous trouting stream. It is on the Z-plan, with towers at the diagonally opposite corners of the main keep, while a modern wing was added in the 19th century to designs by James Matthews, an architect in Aberdeen.
The Castle was built by the Cheyne family, who held the lands of Arnage from 1380 to 1643. In 1702 it was acquired by Bailie (afterwards Provost) John Ross of Aberdeen, who in the same year took over the famous house that still bears his name in the Shiprow of that city. His portrait by Sir John Medina, preserved in the Castle for many years, shows a grave countenance, and his religious zeal was well known. The Rosses and their descendants in the female line, the Leith-Rosses, continued as lairds of Arnage down to 1937.
Nearby cities: Aberdeen
Nearby towns: Inverurie, Kintore, Mintlaw, Peterhead
Nearby villages: Aldie, Auchmacoy, Auchnagatt, Balmedie, Belhelvie, Bullers of Buchan, Collieston, Colpy, Craigdam, Cruden Bay, Dens, Elrick House, Fyvie, Hatton, Hatton of Fintray, Inkhorn, Kinmuck, Kirkton of Logie Buchan, Kirktown of Bourtie, Kirktown of Slains, Methlick, Nether Kinmundy, Nethermuir, Newburgh, Newmachar, Oldmeldrum, Pitmedden, Pittrichie, Stuartfield, Tarves, Tillery, Ythsie
Have you decided to visit Ellon or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Ellon bed and breakfast (a Ellon B&B or Ellon b and b)
- a Ellon guesthouse
- a Ellon hotel (or motel)
- a Ellon self-catering establishment, or
- other Ellon accommodation