King Henry VIII, upon returning to his throne after the execution of his wife, Ann Boleyn, remarked that a man’s home is his castle.
Visiting the family on vacation took on an entirely new meaning for the Brodie family.
Duane and Barb Brodie, longtime residents of Nevada, now retired from farming and living in Ames, have ancestral ties to the Brodie Clan in Scotland. In July of 1997, Duane and Barb traveled to Scotland to check out the Brodie homestead, which just happens to be a castle.
“The trip was actually to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary,” explained Barb. “My family came to the United States from Norway and we all wanted to walk on the land and see the home where my dad had been born and raised in Norway. While there, we took a trip to Scotland to check out the Brodie Castle. We became the first of the Brodie family to visit the castle.”
Once they arrived near Forres, in Moray, Scotland, they decided to get a phone book and call up a Brodie. “That didn’t work out at all,” said Duane. “There were just too many Brodies listed, and we didn’t know which one to call, so we didn’t do that. We did, however call Ninian Brodie, who lived in the castle at the time and arranged a visit and a tour.”
They met Ninian and caught up on the history of the Brodie family during their visit to the castle. They learned that a portion of the castle had burnt and that it had been rebuilt in stages. In 1980, the castle was turned over to the Scottish Trust.
“Ninian told us that the Brodie family just could not afford to keep the castle any longer,” tells Duane. “The Brodie family called the castle home until the late 20th century. It’s widely accepted that the Brodies have been associated with the land the castle is built on since around 1160, when it is believed that King Malcolm IV had given it to the Brodie family. Ninian lived in the castle until his death in 2003.”
In September of 2016, Mike and Garnet Brodie Knox of Huxley, decided to make a trip to see the castle as well.
“Our daughter, Renae, and her husband Russ DeVolder were living in London at the time,” tells Mike. “So we decided to travel to London to see them and then make a trip to Scotland to see the Brodie Castle.”
With only a week, the foursome decided to see the major sites and took an overnight train to Scotland to see the castle that holds the family name.
Time at the castle proved to be an adventure.
“They now provide organized tours for a price,” commented Mike. “It’s our castle and they charged us to see our own castle.”
They drove their rental car to the parking lot and walked a long path to get to the castle entrance. If they would have had the time, they could have held an event or rented an apartment in the castle for a stay.
“You would expect that a castle would have a grand entrance,” commented Garnet. “But it didn’t. They built castles for safety more than grandeur. It didn’t look like what you would think would be a castle.”
Before the tour, the group was told that cameras were not allowed. Apparently there were some skeletons in the closet — an actual skeleton was found in one wall of the castle.
“Finding a skeleton in the wall is not so different than in current families, we all have them,” joked Mike. “There is so much stuff in each of the rooms and very interesting paintings on all the walls.”
“There were hidden rooms that contained hidden paintings,” explained Ranea.
The castle also contained many very valuable items.
“There is a room that they call the ‘Keep,’ where they would hide family members and guns,” said Barb. “And there was a clock that displayed diamonds all around it, as well as a coronation robe that belonged to the Queen of England and was a gift to the Brodie family. I guess that the Royal Family would like to have it back, but they (the Trust) won’t give it back.”
The wealth continued throughout the castle in the hand-painted china.
“It really was a beautiful place,” commented Garnet. “They had lots of servants at one time in the life of the castle. They were very wealthy people.”
The tour wasn’t complete until the foursome had had lunch in the castle.
“There was a café in the castle and we had a Scottish lunch,” said Garnet. “We kept telling everyone that we are Brodies from America.”
Next, a visit to a nearby cemetery to look for direct relatives where Mike Knox’s family lived a long time ago took place. “My family came from Dunbar, when a relative, at 13 years old, was a stowaway on a ship. Once he got to the United States, an uncle paid his passage. I was looking for a Knox headstone and when I found one, I looked up and right behind it was a Brodie headstone.”
“This was my absolute favorite trip,” commented Garnet. “We saw everything we wanted to see. We would stop in the small villages and we enjoyed listening to the accents when people talked, and then all of a sudden we found the Scots listening to us. I guess we were the ones with the accent.”
Not too many people can say that they have a direct connection to a castle. But the Brodie family immigrated to the United States in 1855, where they settled in Illinois with some of the clan coming to Iowa. Duane’s great-great grandmother, Anne McDougal, was among the group. After visiting the Brodie Castle, the current day Iowans would find it hard to grasp just how busy and how bustling that same castle would have been at the height of medieval times. It was in 1160 that the Tribe took the name of Brodie and it was then that the Brodie Tribe became a Clan.
But they all agree that they love having the ties to an actual castle that is part of their heritage and wears the Brodie name.