BASS OF INVERURIE
The Bass of Inverurie was a motte-and-bailey castle built in either the eleventh or twelfth century. By 1176 it was held by the Leslie family and remained in use until the fourteenth century. Robert the Bruce stayed at the castle immediately prior to his victory over John Comyn at the Battle of Barra (1308).
Inverurie is located near the confluence of the rivers Don and Urie, both of which served as the main means of movement throughout the region during the medieval era. Inverurie Castle, which is better known as the Bass of Inverurie, was clearly raised to control this key nodal point although precisely who founded it and when is uncertain. The earliest reference dates from 1176 when it was held by Malcolm Leslie on behalf of David, Earl of Huntingdon. However, the Leslie family had come to Scotland over a hundred years prior to this when Bartholomew (Bardolf) de Lesselyn (Leslie) formed part of the entourage of Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III. Bartholomew was appointed as constable of Edinburgh Castle and had also acquired lands in the Garioch, located within modern day Aberdeenshire. It is possible the Bass of Inverurie was constructed shortly thereafter to serve as the administrative centre for the associated estates.
Although the castle looks like a classic motte, the fortification was actually a natural mound that was modified to suit the defensive needs of the outpost. The highest portion of the site was on the east side and this would have hosted a shell keep enclosed by a timber palisade. The bailey was to the west but on the same natural rise and would also have been enclosed by a timber palisade. An oak gangway provided access to the Keep. Archaeological exploration has found evidence of two rectangular buildings within the bailey, presumably a Great Hall and Chambers. A wet ditch surrounded the fortification whilst the surrounding low lying marshy ground greatly enhanced the defensive qualities of the site.
The castle passed through marriage to the Bruce family in 1237 and was still in their hands during the First War of Scottish Independence. The castle was probably where Robert the Bruce lay sick in early 1308 before riding out to defeat John Comyn, Earl of Buchan at the Battle of Barra, fought near Oldmeldrum. It is not known when the castle went out of use. It may have been destroyed by Robert the Bruce in the years preceding his victory at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) to prevent its use by English forces. Alternatively it may have simply fallen out of use circa-1357 after the death of his sister, Christian, who had previously owned the site. The castle grounds were landscaped in the late nineteenth century and a path was cut between the Bass and Little Bass.
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The Bass of Inverurie consists of the earthwork remains of a motte-and-bailey castle. The remains are located within a cemetery which also hosts some Pictish symbol stones.
Inverurie Castle. The castle consisted of two components - the Bass, which was a conical hillock adapted into a motte-like structure, and the Little Bass which was an oval shaped, flat-topped mound that hosted the bailey. Prior to landscaping in 1883, the two earthworks were originally connected.
Bass / Motte. The motte like structure was actually a natural rise that was adapted for the castle.
Bass of Inverurie. The castle was located near the confluence of the rivers Don and Urie.
Battle of Inverurie (1745). On 23 December 1745 a force of 1,100 Jacobites defeated a smaller Government army in the immediate vicinity of Inverurie. A cairn commemorates the battle.
The Bass of Inverurie is found within Inverurie Cemetery which is directly off the B993 at the south end of the town. There is a small lay-by next to the cemetery or alternatively on-road parking is possible closer to the town centre. The battlefield cairn is found 200 metres to the west of the castle site.
Battle of Inverurie (1745) Cairn