A location in North Fife comprising of a farm, ruined castle and doocot, and a
major intersection in the trunk road network, Parbroath is located 4 miles
(6 km) NW of Cupar (Cowper) and 5 miles (8 km) north of Ladybank. The
cross-roads takes the A92, which links Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy to the Tay
Road Bridge and Dundee, across the A913, which links Newburgh to Cupar.
Of the ancient castle of Parbroath which belonged to the oldest branch of the
family of Seton, which branch were senior's in the cadets at the time of the
Seton's of Winton accession to the chiefship, nothing remains: the old
triangular-shaped castle was surrounded by a moat, and over which there was
a draw-bridge is now gone, save part of an arch from one of the barrel
vaulted ground floors, surrounded by a few old trees, which has been
carefully preserved by desire of the Earl of Hopetoun. However, the
park in which they were situated is still called the "Castlefield" to
The Seton's of Parbroath became Hereditary Keepers of
Falkland Palace, Royal Comptrollers, Justiciar's and Sheriffs of Fife, and
contributed endlessly to the Church and Clergy. The more noted branches of
the family of Parbroath being, Kinglass, Lathrisk, Ramelrie, Rumgavie and
The Lands and Estate of Parbroath are of great antiquity,
and the three earliest mentions in a Charter are: 1st from King William the
Lion in 1165, to the Kinloch's of Fife of 5 Baronies, Lithrie, Cruvie,
Parbroath, Kinslief and Colessie, and others; 2nd further
Charters acquired by the Kinloch's circa 1230 by Roger de Quincy, Constable
of Scotland to John de Kinloch of the lands of Parbroath and Kinsliep; and
the 3rd Charter circa 1300 and confirmed by William of Lamberton, Bishop of
St. Andrews, to William de Kinloch; all of which Charters came into the
possession of the antiquary, Hamilton of Wishaw, when he acquired the lands
of Weddershie from the Kinloch family during the 18th century.
Following the Wars of Independence, Parbroath had passed to
the influential family's of Balfour and Ramsay, but it was not long to remain
with those House's, and within a generation had passed to the knights of the
Royal House, and that of the Seton family.
Sir John Seton the fourth son of
the famed Sir Alexander Seton and Lady Christian Cheyne of Straloch, but the
second surviving son of the Keeper of Berwick who was noted during the siege
of that town by England's King Edward, was the founder of the Seton's of
Parbroath. Sir John married the heiress Elizabeth Ramsay sometime after
1333, who was given by King David II to his father to bestow on his son, and
became the 1st Baron of Parbroath.
Numerous charters were dated from the mansion in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In 1512, the estate of Parbroath became Royal property through non-entry for
50 years, however James IV restored it to the family and to it's rightful
heir, John Seton of Parbroath.
David Seton, 7th of Parbroath, (d.24.11.1601), succeeded
his grandfather in 1563, and was Ranger of East and West Lomonds of Falkland, as
well as Falkland Palace, and was Comptroller of the Scottish Revenue from 1589
to 1595. He was a faithful adherent to Queen Mary Stuart and noted for his
assisting and fortifying the Castle and City of Edinburgh along with
Chatellerault, Huntly, Kirkaldy of Grange and others against the Regent Moray,
for the interest of the infant son of Queen Mary, King James VI, for which he
was later pardoned when King James came of age.
His heir, George Seton, 8th and Last Baron of Parbroath,
sold the vast Barony of Parbroath, with it's extended lands in Fife to the
Lindsays before 1633, the castle falling into disrepair by the mid-18th century
and became a crumbling ruin. By the following century it had been cleared
and it's stones carried away or used to fill in the moat in favour of farming.
only remnant of the once unique and proud
Parbroath Castle, similar to that of Caerlavrock or the original Seton Castle of
the 14th century, is a fragment of a vault standing in a field 300 yards
southwest of Parbroath farm, a fragment of freestone, 8.0m long by 3.0m high and
0.8m thick at base, showing the commencement of a barrel vault. Some small
stones are scattered about 12.0m east of the wall, but there are no definite
traces of foundations.
The course of the bailey has been plotted from air photographs; the ditch of
the roughly triangular bailey that had enclosed the castle is visible as a
crop-mark on air photographs. It measures 600' long by 400' max width with one
corner south of the main Newburgh-Cupar road.
What does remain of the Seton estate, is a roofless rectangular 17th century
dovecot, built of rubble and harled with crow-stepped flanks, that stands in a
field 250 yards W of Parbroath farm.
Of the late farm-buildings at Parbroath, the simple and oblong chapel once
associated with it, was for a time used as a barn. However, what had at
one time been the Seton of Parbroath's private estate chapel and where at it and
at the nearby church of Creich, divine service was performed on alternate
Sabbaths, there is no evidence of a chapel in the farm buildings that remain
In confirmation of a chapel having been there, a few years ago when the
foundation of a wall was dug up close by the site of the old barn, some graves
were discovered, which had formed part of the burying-ground connected with the
The site the long disused graveyard of the estate chapel, is now part of a field
and part of the garden adjoining Parbroath farm house, and, in about 1825-30,
large quantities of human bones were dug up when making a fence through it to
enclose the garden. There are numerous natural knolls on the Parbroath
farm, and two stone coffins containing human bones were also found on knolls a
little east of Parbroath, and two urns containing human bones were found in
knolls a little west of Parbroath