Secret medieval chamber found in Scottish castle

Archaeologists working on Drum Castle in Scotland have discovered a secret medieval chamber that had its own toilet.

Drum Castle lies in the county of Aberdeen in northeastern Scotland. Its square tower was built in 1272 and was granted to William de Irwyn in 1325 by Robert the Bruce. The castle, which belonged to the Clan Irvine until 1975, was expanded in the 17th and 19th centuries, but the original keep has remained intact.

Drum Castle - photo by Craig Burgess

Dr Jonathan Clark from FAS Heritage explained that they could see two windows on the outside of the keep, but they did not could be found from the interior of the castle. Although they believed the windows went into passageways that had been filled up with rubble, the archaeologists decided to explore them.

Dr Clark says, “We were surprised that when we carefully unblocked the windows and peered in, and through the dim light of a torch and the mists of dust and trapped for centuries, to find a perfectly preserved medieval chamber, complete with the remains of the guarderobe (toilet) including the remains of the original toilet seat and the original entrance doorway for the medieval hall.”

He added, “This adds greatly to our knowledge of how the interior of the Tower of Drum was used in the medieval period. In due course it should contribute to a greater knowledge of how fourteenth century towers were used in their heyday.”

The archaeologists have also found a second secret chamber in the keep. “We will now be carefully photographing and measuring what we have discovered so that we can add it to the plans that we have been preparing on the Tower of Drum as part of the bigger project of conservation and archaeological investigation on this important castle.”

The National Trust for Scotland is overseeing a £700,000 archaeological and conservation project at the castle. Water running through the walls has been slowly damaging the keep, and the team is hoping to replace some of its dense cement mortar with lime mortar.

Sources: National Trust for Scotland, The Scotsman, The Herald

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for
our weekly email