The barony of Manuel, in which Almond Castle is found, was acquired by the Crawford family no later than the early fifteenth century. William Crawford was recorded as its owner in 1417 and the first reference to a fortification, which was originally called Haining Castle, dates from 1425. What form this castle took and whether it was William who built it is unknown but around 1470 it was rebuilt into the Tower House seen today.
The castle took the form of a four storey L-plan Tower House comprised of a main rectangular block and a connected stair tower. The ground floor consisted on a vaulted basement which could only be accessed via a small hatch from above. The first floor was the Great Hall whilst the levels above provided accommodation. The upper level was topped with a massive stone vault. The main entrance to the castle was via a door on the first floor which led directly into the Great Hall.
In 1542 the male line of the Crawfords of Haining failed and the castle passed to Thomas Livingstone through his marriage to Agnes Crawford. They added a new range on the north-east side to provide enhanced living quarters. A further wing was added to the south-east in 1586 again adding more accommodation. Sir James Livingston was created Lord Almond in 1633 and he changed the name of the castle to reflect his title.
The Livingstones supported the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. When that was defeated the family's assets, including Almond Castle, were seized by the State. The castle was sold to the York Buildings Company who plundered its fabric before selling on the ruined structure to William Forbes, an Aberdeenshire copper merchant, in 1783. He did little with the castle and instead made his home at nearby Callendar House. The castle was allowed to drift into ruin although it remained surrounded by functioning farms until 1958 after which the Whitecross Industrial Park was constructed around the tower. This has now closed and its buildings demolished once more leaving the castle to dominate its surroundings. However, the tower itself is structurally unsound and therefore has been fenced off.
Breeze, D J (2002). People and places: the men, women and places that made Scottish history. Edinburgh.
Brown, K.M (2000). Noble Society in Scotland: Wealth, Family and Culture from Reformation to Revolution. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
CANMORE (2016). Almond Castle. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
Cruden, S (1960). The Scottish Castle. Edinburgh.
Dargie, R.L.C (2004). Scottish Castles and Fortifications. GW Publishing, Thatcham.
Tabraham, C (2000). Scottish Castles and Fortifications. Historic Scotland, Haddington.
Tranter, N (1962). The fortified house in Scotland. Edinburgh.
Almond Castle is in a ruined and structurally unsound state and accordingly has been fenced off for safety reasons. However, the fencing has been partially pulled down making access possible but inadvisable. Furthermore the castle itself sits within the grounds of a demolished industrial estate and extreme care must be taken when traversing the grounds
Almond Castle. The Tower was configured in a L-plan.
Stone Vault Roof. The top of the castle was capped by a massive stone vault roof.
Extensions. The sixteenth century extensions to the castle have gone although fragments can still be seen.
Industrial Estate. Almond Castle, along with its surrounding ancillary buildings, once stood in the centre of an agricultural community. However, in the mid-twentieth a century a brickworks was established around the castle although this has now been abandoned.
Union Canal. The castle is accessed from the tow-path of the Union Canal.
Almond Castle is a late fifteenth century L-plan Tower House built by the Crawford family. In 1542 it passed to the Livingstones who added additional wings but they forfeited ownership following their participation in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. Today the castle is found within an abandoned industrial site but access is prohibited as the structure is unsound.
Almond Castle can be accessed from the footpath along the Union Canal. There is a car park just off the A801, signed posted as the 'Union Canal picnic site', which provides access to the footpath. It is an 800 metre walk to the castle site with the tower clearly visible to your left as you approach. Take the footpath left when you reach the bridge over the canal.