10 Abandoned Places Across Scotland

KelvingroveTunnel (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

When anyone mentions buildings in Scotland the first thoughts that I presume will cross your mind are the most popular tourist attractions such as Stirling or Edinburgh Castle. Many people that have visited these popular locations might have a romantic notion of well maintained buildings with a piper at the door belting out Flower of Scotland but this isn’t the case for every grand structure. All across the country is a secret world of forgotten architecture, from derelict castles to whole islands that are lying vacant, slowly deteriorated by time and the elements.

Dalquharran Castle

Dalquharran Castle (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

Dalquharran Castle and its grounds are quite unique as there are two ruined castles within 300 metres of each other. The land, including the old castle, was purchased in the late 17th century but even at the time it was considered to be old fashioned and a new castle was designed and built by Robert Adam between 1785 and 1790. Dalquharran Castle has been extended to accommodate large families living there and was used as a school for the deaf during the Second World War. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the building was left abandoned, with the roof being removed to avoid taxation on the property. There have been several proposals for renovating the new castle but so far none have come to fruition.

Glenfarg Railway Tunnels

Glenfarg Tunnels (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

The Glenfarg railway tunnels were part of the Perth to Kinross line, which opened in 1890. Due to the terrain the North British Railway had to construct two tunnels within four miles of each other. The line was closed in 1970 due to large sections of the track-bed being required for the new M90 motorway route. The two abandoned railway tunnels are both very similar in length with the southern tunnel being 517 yards and the northern tunnel being 507 yards.

Polphail Village

Polphail Village is a very peculiar place, as it was redundant from the moment it was built and was never used for its intended purpose. Polphail was built in the early 1970s to provide accommodation for workers at a nearby oil platform construction yard in Portavadie, which never materialised. The ghost village has stood abandoned ever since. There have been murmurings that the village will be knocked down with residential accommodation built on the site. But with bats being its only current occupants, this proposal looks unlikely for the foreseeable future, due to the licensing being notoriously difficult to obtain for this protected animal.

Bangour Village Hospital

Bangour Village Hospital was formerly a psychiatric hospital which opened in 1904 and closed 100 years later in 2004. The hospital itself was designed off of a German built asylum named “Alt-Scherbitz” located in Schkeuditz, and was one of the first village-styled psychiatric hospitals in Scotland. At it’s peak it had everything you would expect from a fully functional small village with it’s own railway station, bakery and school. Bangour Village, located near Livingston, was requisitioned by the War Office during both world wars for use as an emergency hospital, before later reverting back to its original psychiatric purpose. The site itself consists of 13 A listed buildings preventing their demolition. Interestingly, shortly after its closure it was used as a set for the 2005 film The Jacket starring Keira Knightley and Adrian Brody.

Hartwood Hospital

Hartwood Hospital (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

Hartwood Hospital is renowned for its imposing twin Victorian clock towers. The abandoned hospital itself was overseen by a Dr Archibald Campbell Clark, who was involved in the development of several modern psychiatric techniques that are still in use today. The hospital itself was another example of a village-based psychiatric hospital that was entirely self-sustaining. The institution finally closed in 1998 and was used as a TV studio by Lanarkshire Television until the company was shut down in 2002. In 2004 a major fire broke out, damaging much of the abandoned hospital building and preventing access to one of the clock towers.

ICI Nobel Ardeer

ICI Nobel Ardeer (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

Alfred Nobel setup a company in 1870 for the production of a new explosive called dynamite. It was at the current ICI Nobel Ardeer site in Ayrshire, where it was produced. The chemist and engineer is more commonly known for his Nobel Prizes, which were established in his will after critics labelled him “the merchant of death”, due to his invention of dynamite and ballistite which were both used predominantly for violence. At its peak the ICI Nobel Ardeer site employed 13,000 people and even had its own travel agents, bank and dentist. Parts of the industrial site remain active to this day although much of it is now abandoned, littered with various bunkers and laboratories hinting at its days of mass producing explosives.

Birkwood Castle Hospital

Birkwood Castle which was also known as Birkwood Psychiatric Hospital and is considered by many to be one of the most haunted sites in the UK. It was originally built in 1860 as a home for the McKirdy family, but was later used as a hospital from 1923. The hospital was used mainly for children with learning difficulties but closed as a hospital around 2002. The site was purchased in 2012 to be renovated into a hotel and restaurant. But in August 2015 the castle partially collapsed in mysterious circumstances, prompting some people to speculate that spirits were angry about its imminent conversion. Since then the renovations have ceased to progress with the premises lying empty.

Castlebridge Colliery

Castlebridge Colliery (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

Castlebridge Colliery was part of a vast coal mining complex in Fife, and served as one of the main coal supplies to Longannet power station. The shaft was sunk at a cost of £57 million in 1978 with production starting six years later in 1984. It was the last deep coal mine shaft to be sunk in Scotland during the National Coal Board era, but also the first one to be sunk in 20 years at that time. The site was closed in 2001, with the shaft filled and capped leaving the topside buildings empty. The abandoned mine was one of the most productive collieries in Europe, breaking all productivity records in Scotland. Many aspects of the site were duplicated in other collieries in the UK and around the world as it was seen as a blueprint for modern mining. This was the last deep mine in Scotland, with its closure effectively ending underground coal mining in the country and eventually leading the to the recent closure of the Longannet power station.

Buchanan Castle

Buchanan Castle was built by the 4th Duke of Montrose in 1854. This is the second building that was situated here as the original structure had previously burned down two years prior, in 1852. The original castle had served as the main house of the Clan Buchanan. The new building, meanwhile, replaced Mugdock Castle as the official seat of the Clan Graham. It was eventually sold in 1925 and used as a hospital during the Second World War. Buchanan Castle famously held Nazi Party politician Rudolf Hess, who crashed his Messerschmitt Bf 110 into a field while supposedly attempting to fly to Scotland to negotiate peace between Germany and the UK. In the 1960s the roof was removed to avoid taxation, leading to the abandonment and swift deterioration of the building.

Inchkeith Island

Inchkeith Island (Image: Abandoned Scotland)

Inchkeith Island sits in the Firth of Forth between Edinburgh and Pettycur, and is believed to have been used by people for several hundred years. Its most recent use was during the World Wars when the island would act as a defence against enemy ships attempting to sail up the Firth of Forth. Most of the buildings that were left over from those days still remain on the island in various states of disrepair. Inchkeith though wasn’t always used as a military defence post. During the 15th century it was also used as a refuge for patients suffering from syphilis and the plague.

An experiment was allegedly carried out here on the orders of James IV, in which two children and a mute women were left on the island. The experiment was used to determine which language the infants would grow up to speak while isolated from the rest of the population. The hope at the time was that they would grow up to speak the “language of God” but from accounts afterwards the children remained mute. There are many stories and mysteries surround Inchkeith, which make it one of the most fascinating locations in Scotland.

If you’re interested in learning more about the compelling abandoned architecture around Scotland you can visit the Abandoned Scotland website to see more.


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