Inside the Challenges of Owning a Scottish Castle

Owning a sprawling, historic structure has its ups and downs

Aldourie Castle
Aldourie Castle.
Dave Conner, CC BY 2.0

For some luxury home buyers, expansive is the watchword. Why buy a house, one might argue, when you can have an estate? And by that same logic, why buy an estate when there are castles to be had? Roughly 100 castles dot the landscape of Scotland and, every few years, one of them goes on the market.

The upsides of owning a castle are many: having a storied property with a long history, plus the general flex of being able to say that you own a castle. But there are also challenges that come along with castle ownership — as one might expect of any sprawling, centuries-old structure.

A new article by Ruth Bloomfield at Mansion Global offers some insight into the ups and downs of castle ownership. Among the challenges: the upkeep of a castle and an estate isn’t exactly cheap. The article focuses on James Ramsay, Lord Dalhousie, who recently put Brechin Castle on the market. For $4,135,000, the 35,843-square foot castle — plus a quintet of houses and 70 acres of land — can be yours. However, Lord Dalhousie also estimates the annual expenses of keeping the castle running — currently, there’s a staff of 4 — are around $344,000.

There are some bargains to be had in the world of castles as well. Bloomfield mentions Forter castle, which lay in ruins for hundreds of years before businessman Robert Pooley bought it in 1988 for the equivalent of $34,400. His daughter Katharine purchased it from him in the 2000s and continued the renovation; the result is a home like no other.

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