This south elevation contains an armorial stone with a shield and the Coat of Arms of the Kennedies of Kermuck who were Hereditary Constables of Aberdeen Castle. This contains a key and sword saltirewise between four cross crosslets along with the shield of Cheyne. While it is difficult to date the building (and there were several changes and alterations), Dr Douglas Simpson dates the earliest part at the first half of the 15th Century.


Ardgith comes from two Gaelic words Ard- meaning an eminence or high ground and Gaoth- meaning wind.

Kermuck is also from two gaelic words. Cèarn- meaning a corner or region and muc- meaning a pig. This was the old name for Ellon which itself is  from the Gaelic word Eilean meaning an island.

The Slaughter of Waterton

In 1652 as a result of a dispute between Kennedy of Ardgith and  Forbes of Waterton over a ditch which Kennedy wished to dig across the road to drain  some marshy ground changed the Kennedy fortune dramatically. On 13th February, 1652, a party of  7 Kennedies were undertaking the drainage when they were encountered by Forbes of Waterton with 23 armed men. Kennedy wounded Forbes severely on the head and others were badly injured. After some time the minister intervened and for a short time hostilities ceased. The older Kennedy wished to make peace but being hit on the jaw by a stone went berserk. He struck Forbes such a blow to the head that Forbes died 4 months later. The combatants were required to appear before the court in Edinburgh but did not comply. Their land and property should have been forfeit but somehow they managed to sell it through an intermediary to the son of the deceased Thomas Forbes of Waterton. Thus ended the Kennedy connection with Ardgith Castle although their wives ie the wives of John Kennedy (sen) and John Kennedy (Junior) continued to stay in the castle until 1657.


Ellon Castle was originally known as the Fortalice of Ardgith. The original castle in Ellon was of course on the north bank of the River Ythan at Moot Hill and was a Norman Motte & Bailey Castle. The castle shown opposite was taken down in 1851 to make way for a driveway to the new castle which was completed in 1852. All that now remains of this castle is part of the tower and part of the south elevation (see below).


This is a sketch of the ground floor plan of the old castle with the round turret - part of which still stands at the bottom right hand corner. The entrance was clearly to the left in the middle. From the bottom right the first room with the semi-circular wall was the laundry. The tower was the bottle room and a stair led from the laundry to the first floor. The next room was the kitchen and then off the corridor the wine cellar, and “bear”(bere or barley) cellar. At the left end was a double stair leading to the first floor. In the joining section were a hall, a closet and a porch with doors to the front and rear. On the left top was the servants’ bedroom, double stairs, servants’ hall, dining room and parlour. The picture of the castle at the top right of the page suggests that there are two more stories


The moot hill in Ellon was at the time the most important place in the North East of Scotland.. Sited at the vantage point of the ford across the river Ythan, it was where the Earls of Buchan  (known at that time as Mormaers) collected taxes and meted out justice. The name moot is an old Norse word meaning “meeting place”. The same word occurs in the Gaelic language as “mod” which has the same meaniing of a meeting place for song and poetry.

It is said that there was once a Motte & Bailey Castle here but whatever the structures, this meeting place was significant in Ellon until the destruction of Ellon and the harrying of Buchan in the early 14th century by Robert Bruce as part of the Scottish wars of Independence. Ellon was historically and is rightly the “Gateway to Buchan”. The  picture opposite was taken in 1897 during the 60th anniversary  celebrations of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

In 1977, Ellon Town Council erected a cairn to mark the importance of this spot. The plaque reads:                                               

Moot Hill

Erected in 1977. Here the Mormaers of Buchan held courts prior to 1214. On this site stood a Motte and Bailey Castle where the Norman Earls of Buchan 1214-1307 were installed in their titles and offices and from where they administered the province and dispensed justice. Thus the site became known as Earl’s Hill. It was from here that John Comyn, the last earl gathered his followers to fight at the Battle of Barra Hill 1308.


The cairn has since been removed and replaced by a modern sculpture which  represents the moot hill. It  was designed and executed by Simon Beeson and he describes it as a place to meet rather than an object to look at. The cairn was replaced with a column of Kemnay granite topped with a bronze sculpture by Nicola Moss. The 12 seats are arranged in a circle representing time - months or clock.

The  top  is a simple representation of  an earth mound with a single chair  which represents the Earl of Buchan sitting as it were meting out justice. The inscriptions are “Moot Hill 1100 to 1793 representing the period during which the ford played a prominent role in Ellon. 1793 is the year in which the “Aul Brig” was opened and the ford became less important. The other inscription refers to the geographical location - 57º 22' North 2º 4' West. The small reliefs of a salmon, Heron, and Otter

are representative of water, air, and earth creatures of the Ythan. The overall aim is to show the uniqueness of the place and its special relationship with Ellon including the seats which give a contemporary use to the place as somewhere to pause.

To return to Ellon Through Time Page, click HERE

To return to Ellon Through Time Page, click HERE