Dating from 1476, Ackergill was a Keith stronghold, owned by Sir Reginald de Cheyne, Earl Marshall of Scotland. The estate was then estimated at well over 500,000 acres. Various Captains signing by the name of Keith looked after the lands in Caithness for many years, with the Estate passing in direct descent for eight generations until the Battle of Flodden in 1513.
The History of Ackergill Tower
These were barbarous times and it became increasingly difficult for the Keiths to maintain this remote estate in the north of Scotland. The 5th Earl of Caithness took the Tower by force in the late 1600`s and held it for several years until Cromwell`s troops in 1671 sent him scurrying for safety to Orkney. The house and grounds were duly returned to the Keiths, but they had tired of the their most northerly property and sold it in 1696 to Sir William Dunbar of Hempriggs.
In 1845, Sir George Dunbar, recently created Lord Duffus, employed the Edinburgh architect, David Bryce, to transform the castle into the finest gentleman’s seat in the north of Scotland. The castle enjoyed a short period of glorious splendour in the late 1800’s, when hunting and shooting parties were commonplace, but the cost of upkeeping Ackergill Tower soon took its toll.
Hastened by Victorian gambling debts, the castle entered a period of slow decline. Ackergill was considered beyond salvation when it was purchased in 1986 by the present owner. However, after a careful and loving restoration, the castle opened its doors again in 1988.
The Haunted History of Ackergill Tower
In the 15th century the castle was owned by the Keith family, who were in the midst of a feud with the Gunn family. After several murders and revenge murders, Helen Gunn of Braemore, was abducted by Dugald Keith who lived in the tower.
At the time she was betrothed to another man, and she either jumped or fell from the tower trying to escape. Helen Gunn is now said to wander the tower as a Green Lady.