Kellie Castle


Fife KY10 2RF


Medieval Charm in Fife

Kellie Castle was slipping into ruin when the Lorimers moved there in 1878. The family included son Robert, who would go on to become one of Scotland’s greatest architects of the arts and crafts era, and it was largely down to his influence, along with that of his sister Louise, that the castle was sympathetically restored.

Today the garden which they and Robert’s son, the sculptor Hew Mortimer, helped to shape, is one of the most charming of its kind, filled with a tangle of roses and honeysuckle, punctuated by the tall, blue spires of delphinium and spilling over with organic produce.

The garden faces south and the high walls that protect it from coastal breezes also trap the heat, concentrating the scent of the Jacobite roses (Rosa x alba 'Alba Maxima') that erupt from amidst the mounds of nepeta that grow along the length of the blue and white borders lining the central walkway.

The Herald: Kellie Castle gardensKellie Castle gardens (Image: DGS)

A new entrance to the garden has been developed but for centuries visitors have had to pass through the south facing terrace which may once have been an archery lawn. Today peaches and figs grow in its shelter and kiwi fruits ripen in a glass growhouse. More fruit, including old varieties of apple, grow around the interior walls and gooseberries are grown as cordons to reduce the risk of mildew, while the shadiest corner is reserved for 24 varieties of rhubarb.

The Lorimers’ intention was to retain Kellie as a Scottish ‘pleasaunce’, a medieval, enclosed garden attached to a castle, and they created summer houses where they could enjoy the flowers even on wet  days.

They also adopted traditional gardening techniques, increasing the stock of shrubs and roses. The  National Trust for Scotland has continued this work and its gardeners grow fruit, flowers and vegetables all mixed together, helping to reduce attacks from pests and diseases without the need for chemicals.

Companion planting is another organic practice, which uses plants with a strong scent, such as garlic, to confuse bugs that would otherwise attack strawberries and roses.

The soil at Kellie has been cultivated for more than 500 years, so it is deep, rich and productive and the walls protect flowers and produce from the salty winds that blow in from the coast.

The Herald: Kellie CastleKellie Castle (Image: dgs)

Victorian lantern cloches are used to provide added protection to crops in spring and apples, plums and cherries are grown as espaliers around the walls, where they benefit from the heat given off by the stone.

Set into one wall are bee boles, where wicker skeps would have provided a home for honeybees.

Outside of the walls, the Kellie estate includes a fernery and an adventure playground. There are woodlands, open meadows and a picnic area. A large pond is surrounded by marginal plants including Rheum palmatum and the giant leaves of Gunnera manicata. There is also a bird hide from where visitors can observe greenfinches, great spotted woodpeckers and a whole variety of birdlife.


What’s On

Throughout the summer Kellie Castle will be holding a series of Kids’ Creature Hunts, where young visitors can search for some of the estate’s smallest residents. Then on Friday, 28 July and again on Friday, 25 August there will be guided garden tours where members of the gardening team will explain the history of the gardens and talk about how it is cared for today.



The gardens are open daily, 10.30am - 5pm

Tickets: £11/£9.50/£1 (Young Scot)


Kellie Castle is three miles north west of Pittenweem on the B942.