The Doune of Invernochty was originally a Pictish site and later converted into a Norman-style motte and bailey fortification. It served as the administrative centre for the Lordship of Strathdon until it was abandoned in the thirteenth century in favour of Kildrummy Castle.



Invernochty Castle was built upon a natural mound formed from glacial rock. By the ninth century AD it was a Pictish settlement and in the late eleventh or early twelfth centuries it was carved into a substantial Norman-style fortress by the Earl of Mar. Invernochty Castle probably acted as the primary administrative centre of the Lordship of Strathdon.


The castle itself consists of a mound some twelve metres tall. The sheer scale of the motte allowed numerous structures to be built on its summit including a church and a substantial stone curtain wall two metres thick. It was sited at the confluence of the River Don and Water of Nochty which were dammed to create an artificial lake that supplied water, via a series of sluices, to a moat that surrounded the castle. A crescent shaped platform, to the west of the motte, was probably a bailey.


The name of the structure derives from the Gaelic term Dun Inbhir Nochdaidh meaning "fort on the River Nochty". Today it is also known as Strathdon Castle (the modern name for Invernochty village) and also the "Citadel of Mar" in reference to its builder.


Around the early thirteenth century Kildrummy Castle was built as a replacement for Invernochty as it was better located for controlling the key routes into Buchan and Moray. Nevertheless the Parish church, on top of the mound, was still in use during the seventeenth century. The site was briefly used as an observation post during World War II and today it is noteworthy as the only known Norman earthwork castle in Scotland that has a stone structure of Norman origin on its summit.





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What's There?

The Doune of Invernochty is large motte, built upon a natural glacial mound, along with associated earthworks. The mound is accessible to the public but it is quite a steep climb to the summit. Robust footwear is recommended.

Doune of Invernochty. The huge mound stands near the confluence of the River Don and Water of Nochty.

Mound. The castle grounds are open to the public but it is a steep climb to the summit.

Mound. The castle was built over a natural glacial mound.

Ditch. The ditch around the mound was originally filled with water.

Stone Remains. Traces of stone structures can been seen on the summit. Invernochty is the only Norman era castle with contemporary stone remains in Scotland.

Getting There

The Doune of Invernochty is found directly adjacent to the A944 south-west of Bellabeg. There is a car park on the opposite side of the road.

Doune of Invernochty

AB36 8UR

57.202741N 3.074798W