In 1454 the 4th Earl of Angus received permission to build a castle in this location. Between 1490 and 1496, the five-story tower house was created by the 2nd Lord Gray on a charter from King James IV, forming the core of the castle overlooking the mouth of the River Tay. Five English ships were captured near the site in 1489, which prompted the need for more defenses along the Tay.
When the English invaded Scotland during the Rough Wooing between 1547 and 1550, Patrick, 4th Lord Gray, delivered Broughty Castle to the English without the English firing a shot. From Broughty, the English harried Dundee for two and a half years until the castle was taken back by the Scots, with help from the French, on February 12th, 1550, and was partially demolished.
Although partially demolished, the castle was held for Mary, Queen of Scots, by the Duke of Chatelherault until 1571. In 1651 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the castle was taken for Oliver Cromwell by General Monck, and Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, was imprisoned within the castle. When the Gray family sold the castle in 1666, it gradually became more ruinous.
By 1821, Broughty Castle was a roofless ruin but was still purchased by the War Office in 1855 at the end of the Crimean War when it was enlarged and given gun emplacements for nine guns to defend the mouth of the Tay due to a threat of invasion from the French, but no attack occurred. Further alterations were made during the First and Second World Wars, resulting in stronger defenses and a defense post constructed at the top of the tower.
Broughty Castle sits proudly at the mouth of the River Tay, and the central Tower House and grounds are open to visitors. Today the Tower House is home to a museum on the Life and Times of Broughty Ferry, its people, environment, and wildlife.
The outer ramparts surrounding the courtyard and some cannons still exist in addition to the Tower House. Broughty Castle can be thoroughly explored in a few hours. To make a full day of visiting castles, Claypotts Castle is just a few miles north, on Dundee's edge.