The first castle here was built in 1330 by Maol Íosa V, the Earl of Strathearn, but it is unknown whether any of this structure is incorporated in the present building. In 1473 James III granted the estate to Sir Walter Ogilvy, who began either adding to the existing castle, or built a new one on the site of the old one. Cortachy Castle has remained in the Ogilvy family ever since (apart from a 30 year period when it was forfeited to the Crown for the Ogilvy’s support of the Jacobite Rising of 1745) and is now the main seat of the Earl of Airlie.
James Ogilvy, the 7th Lord of Airlie, bought Cortachy Castle from a member of his family around 1625. For services to the King he was created the 1st Earl of Airlie by Charles I at York in 1639. His refusal to sign the National Covenant meant his family’s castles at Airlie, Craig and Forter were burned by Archibald Campbell, the 8th Earl of Argyll, in 1640, so the Ogilvys moved to Cortachy.
Originally a courtyard-type castle, two tall round flanking towers can still be seen, now incorporated into the southern part of the much-extended house. The old keep has been incorporated beyond recognition into the northern and eastern part of the property.
Additions were made in 1820, and a Scots Baronial wing added in 1872. The new wing was damaged by fire in 1883 however, and was eventually demolished in 1949.