His­toric gar­dens to be re­vived

Tourism: Am­bi­tious plans to de­velop cas­tle’ s walled gar­dens into full-time at­trac­tion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY KIRSTEN ROBERT­SON

El­lon Cas­tle has had a rich and of­ten bloody his­tory; home to mur­der most foul and re­peat­edly ru­ined.

Each time, the stronghold has been re­built once more as a seat of clan and fam­ily power.

Its na­ture fi­nally changed dur­ing the time of the Ja­co­bite Ris­ing when stun­ning walled gar­dens were planted.

Their full glory has been seen only briefly by the pub­lic over the years but now that is all to change, with the board of El­lon Cas­tle Gar­dens unveiling am­bi­tious plans to rein­vent gar­den and grounds as a full-time tourist at­trac­tion.

To that end, an ex­hi­bi­tion will be held this Satur­day, from 10am to 4pm, to en­able lo­cal peo­ple to see just what is planned.

Vis­i­tors to the Slains Hall at the El­lon Kirk Centre will be able to view photographs and plant­ing plans and meet with mem­bers of the cas­tle’s team.

The board hopes it will be an op­por­tu­nity for El­lon peo­ple “to put their mark on this fu­ture tourist at­trac­tion”.

Hav­ing been built by the Comyn fam­ily in the 13th cen­tury, the orig­i­nal fortress un­der­went re­peated at­tacks and fi­nally ru­ina­tion be­fore it was re­built as a stronghold by Clan Kennedy.

The cas­tle soon switched hands once more af­ter the Kennedys were out­lawed for mur­der­ing John Forbes of Water­town.

That mur­der, car­ried out by a fa­ther and son of the Kennedy Clan, was so bru­tal it came to be known as ‘The Slaugh­ter of Water­town’.

El­lon Cas­tle was con­se­quently sold to the Gor­don fam­ily, who planted the gar­dens, but even though its mar­tial na­ture had less­ened, the cas­tle was still home to blood­shed.

At the heart of the gar­den is a 24-faced sun dial erected as a me­mo­rial to Bail­lie Gor­don of El­lon’s chil­dren.

They were al­legedly mur­dered by their tu­tor af­ter they stum­bled upon him in what is said to have been “a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion” with their mother.

By 1845, the gar­den was in a derelict state and Laird Alexan­der Gor­don em­barked on a project to re­store it to its for­mer glory.

His work has been car­ried on down the years and to­day the board of El­lon Cas­tle Gar­dens plans even more im­prove­ments.

Those keen to make their way to El­lon, how­ever, will have to show pa­tience as it is likely to be about three years be­fore the gar­dens can be fully opened to the pub­lic.

STUN­NING: The walled gar­dens at El­lon Cas­tle will be the fo­cus of a pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion on Satur­day when lo­cal peo­ple will be given the chance to view pro­pos­als to turn the site into a full-time tourist at­trac­tion

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