We cannot be sure when the mouth of the Tay was first fortified, but the present castle was built at the end of the 1400s. Five English ships had been captured near the site in 1489, prompting King James IV to order the construction of the castle in 1490.
A rough wooing
The castle played an important part during the Rough Wooing in 1547 to 1550. After the English devastated the Scots army at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, Sir Andrew Dudley was sent to capture Broughty Castle. The castle’s owner Lord Gray supported the English cause: he wanted Mary Queen of Scots to marry a Protestant Englishman, not a Catholic Frenchman. The castle was captured without a shot being fired.
The castle fell into English hands within two weeks. They stayed for two and a half years, before being driven out by a Franco-Scottish force in 1550.
The castle was sacked during the English invasion of 1651, when Oliver Cromwell’s General Monck attacked the castle. Its defenders ‘quitted and fled away’, leaving the castle, guns and provisions in Monck’s hands. Monck’s control of Dundee was so great that he had no need of Broughty Castle. By the late 1700s, the castle was in ruins.
Broughty was converted to provide artillery defence of the Tay in 1860-61, in response to a threat of French invasion. The castle was gutted and extended to house a sergeant and 14 men. A huge angled battery was built, but no invasion came.
The castle continued to be used by the military, at one point housing a military school and later acting as garrison headquarters for the Tay Division Submarine Miners Royal Engineers (Volunteers). Broughty’s final alteration came during World War II when a defence post was built at the top of the tower house in 1942.
Today its purpose is considerably less warlike: it’s now open to the public as a museum, run by Leisure and Culture Dundee.