Kildrummy Castle


Uilleam, 4th Mormaer of Mar was responsible for the construction of Kildrummy Castle, the greatest castle to have been built in 13th century northern Scotland. It is one of the few examples where a native Scottish magnate built a large-scale fortification, something normally practiced by the incoming French. For several centuries it was the seat of the Earls of Mar. Kildrummy Castle is shield-shaped in plan with a number of independent towers. The flat side of the castle overlooks a steep ravine. On the opposite side of the castle the walls come to a point, which was once defended by a massive twin-towered gatehouse. The castle also had a keep, called the Snow Tower, taller than the other towers, built in the French style, as at Bothwell Castle. Extensive earthworks protected the castle, including a dry moat and the ravine. Most of the castle foundations are now visible, along with most of its lower-storey walls. Archaeological excavations in 1925 uncovered decorative stone flooring and evidence of battles. Kildrummy Castle underwent siege numerous times in its history, first in defence of the family of Robert the Bruce in August-September 1306, leading to the executions of Nigel Bruce and many other Scots, and again in 1335 by David of Strathbogie. On this occasion Christina Bruce held off the attackers until her husband Sir Andrew Murray came to her rescue. In the tumultuous years that followed Dupplin Moor (11 August 1332), Thomas, 8th Earl of Mar's grandmother, Lady Christina Bruce, the sister of Robert the Bruce, held Kildrummy Castle. When she died in 1357, the castle passed to Thomas along with her lands and lordship, which were called the Earldom of Garioch. Thomas was the last of the male line of Mar and was buried within the walls of Kildrummy Castle. In 1374 the castle's heiress, and heiress to the Earldom of Mar, Isabel Douglas was seized by and forced to marry Alexander Stewart, the bastard son of the Wolf of Badenoch, who had kidnapped and murdered her husband, Sir Malcolm Drummond, brother-in-law of King Robert II. Alexander Stewart then laid claim to Kildrummy and the title of Earl of Mar. In 1435 it was taken over by James I, becoming a royal castle until being granted to Lord Elphinstone in 1507. The castle passed from the Clan Elphinstone to the Clan Erskine before being abandoned in 1716 following the failure of the Jacobite Rising of 1715.



Ruins of Kildrummy Castle


Alloa Tower


Dating from the 14th century, Alloa Tower retains its original timber roof and battlements. It was the home of the distinguished Erskines of Mar from the 15th century and is the historic seat of the Chief of Clan Erskine. Some interesting, original features are the oak roof beams, groin vaulting and a domed Italianate staircase, which was added by John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar. It is one of the earliest, largest, and best constructed Scottish tower houses, with immensely thick walls. Alloa Tower Building Preservation Trust restored the tower carefully to its likely appearance in 1712, by which time many of the 6th Earl's improvements had been completed. It is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland. An 8 year restoration was completed, then opened in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth to mark the tower's 500th anniversary of its completion in 1497. Since then, it has been open to visitors, and they even host special events like weddings. The interior is splendid and there is a fine collection of Erskine family portraits and memorabilia on display. A DVD presentation on the ground floor tells the story of the tower and its restoration.



Alloa Tower


Braemar Castle


John Erskine, 18th and 1st Earl of Mar and 6th Lord Erskine, the first living Erskine to be acknowledged as Earl of Mar by descent from Garnait, 6th Earl of Mar, by charter 23 June 1565, had the lands of Strathdone, Braemar and Strathele, and the regality of Garioch. He built Braemar Castle in 1628. It replaced an older building which dated from the 11th century. From the Late Middle Ages, the castle was a stonghold of the Earls of Mar. Braemar Castle had been attacked and burned by John Farquharson, the Black Colonel of Inverey during the Jacobite Rising of 1689, to prevent it being used as a garrison by Government troops. It was at Braemar that John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar iniated the Jacobite Rising of 1715, raising the standard of the Old Pretender. In 1716 the castle was captured by the Hanoverians, and "forfeited to the crown" as punishment for the Earl of Mar's loyalty to the Stuarts. An important garrison after the 1745 Jacobite rising, the castle and lands were purchased by John Farquharson, 9th Laird of Invercauld, but the building was left in ruins until 1748 when it was leased to the government at a fee of 14 pounds per year, now to serve as a garrison for Hanoverian troops. Rebuilding started under the command of John Adam, Master Mason to the Board of Ordnance. In 1831 the military garrison was withdrawn and the castle returned to the Farquharson clan. Restoration to provide a family home began under the 12th Laird of Invercauld who entertained Queen Victoria there when she attended the Braemar Gatherings in the grounds of the Castle. In 1800 Braemar Castle was documented to have its moat intact. It is perhaps ironic that the castle was originally built not only as a hunting lodge, but also to stave off the encroaching power of the Farquharsons. Due the the repercussions of the failed Jacobite Risings, it is currently a possession of the chief of Clan Farquharson. Since 2006 the castle has been leased to the local community. It is run on behalf of the community by local charity, Braemar Community Ltd and staffed by local volunteers, and an ambitious restoration programme has been started. It reopened to the public in 2008.

The building is a five-storey L-plan castle with a star-shaped curtain wall of six sharp-angled salients, and with three storey angle turrets. The central tower enfolds a round stair tower and is built of granite covered with harl. The main entrance retains an original iron yett, and many of the windows are protected by heavy iron grilles. On the ground floor are stone-vaulted rooms which contained the guardroom, ammunition store and original kitchen. These are built out into the salients of the outer wall, and in Victorian times a second kitchen was added adjoining the staff rooms. In the floor of a passage, an iron grill provided access to the Laird's Pit, a dark hole used as a dungeon. On each of the upper floors a large room and a small room occupied the two arms of the tower. On the first floor are the Dining Room and Morning Room, whilst on the floor above is the Laird's Day Room, entered by a curved door. Opposite is the Rose Room, and between the two is a small bathroom installed in 1901. In the main wing at this level is the Drawing Room, containing graffiti incised on the window-shutters by government troops.



Braemar Castle


Corgarff Castle


Corgarff Castle was built around 1530 by the Elphinstone family and leased to the Forbes of Towie. In 1626 it was acquired by John Erskine, 19th and 2nd Earl of Mar, 7th Lord Erskine and 1st Lord Cardross. In 1645 it was used as an assembly point by the troops of the Marquis of Montrose. It was burnt again in both 1689 and 1716 by Jacobite supporters. It was resettled by the Forbes family in 1745 but had to be forfeited due to their Jacobite leanings. In 1748 it was bought by the British government and rebuilt and extended as a barracks. A detachment of government troops were stationed there, on the military road from Braemar Castle to Fort George, Inverness. Military use continued as late as 1831, after which the tower was used to suppress illegal whisky distilling in the surrounding area. It remained part of the Delnadamph estate belonging to the Stockdale family until they passed the castle into state care in 1961 and gave the ownership of the castle to the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, is open to the public, and has been designated a scheduled ancient monument.



Corgarff Castle


Kellie Castle


Kellie Castle is a castle just outside Arncroach. Originally a simple tower house, the lower section of what now constitutes the northwest tower is the oldest part of the castle, dating from around 1360, and is said to be haunted. In 1573 a new tower was built by the 4th Lord Oliphant to the east of the original tower. It is believed that the 4th Lord built the east tower as a jointure-house, a property set aside for the wife after the husband's death, for his wife Margaret. Between 1573 and 1606 the two towers were linked by a new range, terminated by another tower in the south-west, creating the T-plan layout that remains today. The castle is a fine example of Scots Baronial domestic architecture, with an imposing mix of gables, corbelled towers, and chimneys. The earliest records of Kellie go back to 1150 where it is mentioned in a charter issued by King David I. The first known owner was Robert of London, the illegitimate son of King William the Lion. By 1266 Kellie had passed to the Siward family, who had hailed from Northumbria and had assisted King Malcolm Canmore to overthrow Macbeth. The Siewards supported England during the wars of independence (1296-1328) and as result Sir Richard Sieward forfeited his lands in Scotland after Bannockburn. However his daughter Helena Sieward, "Lady Kellie" retained Kellie. None of the buildings they occupied appear to have survived. In about 1360 Helena, or Elena, assigned Kellie to her kinsman Walter Olifard (or Oliphant) of Aberdalgie who was married to Elizabeth, a daughter of Robert the Bruce. Thus began 250 years of occupation by the Oliphant family. The estate was signed over to a Siward relative, Walter Oliphant, in 1360 and the castle remained in the ownership of the Oliphant family until 1613. It is rumoured that the 5th Earl of Kellie hid in a burnt-out tree stump in the grounds of the castle for an entire summer following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

It was purchased by Sir Thomas Erskine, who had saved the life of King James VI during the Gowrie Conspiracy by killing Sir Alexander Ruthven. The King stayed at Kellie in 1617 during his only visit to Scotland after the Union of the Crowns, and he appointed Erskine as Earl of Kellie in 1619. Methven Erskine the 10th Earl of Kellie died in 1829 to be succeeded by John Francis Miller Erskine as 11th Earl of Kellie. The Castle was abandoned by Erskine and cleared of its contents at a Muckle Roup in 1830. John Francis Miller Erskine was confirmed as 26th Earl of Mar in 1835 and the Earldom of Kellie was united with the Earldom of Mar. The property then seems to have fallen to James Maitland Hog of Newliston (thereafter titled "of Newliston and Kellie"). In 1878 it was rented from the Earl of Mar and Kellie by James Lorimer, Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University, and father to Sir Robert Lorimer, the renowned Scottish architect. The Lorimer family set about restoring the castle for use as a holiday retreat, but it soon became the family home. Robert Lorimer was instrumental in much of the restoration work, restoring magnificent plaster ceilings, painted panelling and furniture. Following the death of the Professor the tenancy was taken by his wife Hannah in 1890. Robert Lorimer began the first of his alterations in 1900: building a doocot and garden house. On the death of Hannah in 1916 the tenancy was taken over by their son, John Henry Lorimer the famous Scottish Painter. Robert then began work on restoring the main house, this previously having been resisted by Hannah. Upon John's death in 1936, the tenancy lapsed and the house was cleared and the castle once again became vacant. In 1936 Sir Robert's son, the sculptor Hew Lorimer and his wife Mary, renewed the Lorimer tenancy. Hew and Mary Lorimer purchased the castle in 1948 and it remained in his ownership until 1970. Between 1970 and 1990 Hew continued to live in part of the castle and used the stable block as his studio. Hew Lorimer sold the castle, together with 6.5 hectares of gardens and an organic walled garden to the National Trust for Scotland in 1970. The walled garden is 17th century, with late Victorian additions, and contains a fine collection of old-fashioned roses, fruit trees and herbaceous plants. The main castle contents were given into the care of the Trust by the Secretary of State for Scotland and, in 1998 the Trust purchased the Lorimer family artifacts. Amongst these artifacts are included paintings by Hannah Cassels im Thurn, the eldest daughter of Hannah and James Lorimer. The castle and gardens are open to the public, and there is a permanent exhibition of Hew Lorimer's work and studio in the old stables.



Kellie Castle and Gardens


Dirleton Castle


Dirleton Castle is a medieval fortress in the village of Dirleton, East Lothian, Scotland. It lies around 2 miles (3.2 km) west of North Berwick, and around 19 miles (31 km) east of Edinburgh. The castle is built on a natural rocky outcrop, on a low ridge overlooking the farmland of East Lothian. It comprises a kite-shaped courtyard, 40 metres (130 ft) by 27 metres (89 ft), flanked by buildings on the south and east sides. The most substantial remains are the Ruthven Lodging, the gatehouse, and the de Vaux keep to the south, while only the basement of the east range survives. Fragments of the north and west curtain walls outline the courtyard, which was formerly divided in two by further 16th-century buildings. The castle was originally approached from the south, via a bridge and 3.4-metre (11 ft) drawbridge, across a 15-metre (49 ft) wide ditch. In the 16th century, steps were built to access the Ruthven lodging from the west.The oldest parts of the castle date to the 13th century, and it was abandoned by the end of the 17th century. Begun in around 1240 by John De Vaux, the castle was heavily damaged during the Wars of Scottish Independence, when it was twice taken by the English. In the 14th century, Dirleton was repaired by the Haliburton family, and it was acquired by the Ruthvens in 1505. The Ruthvens were involved in several plots against Mary, Queen of Scots, and King James VI, and eventually forfeited the castle in 1600.

Dirleton played a role in the story of the "Gowrie Conspiracy" of 1600 in that there has long been suspicion that the castle was taken from the Ruthvens and given to Thomas Erskine as a reward for assisting James VI in the murder of Patrick Ruthven's sons: John, 3rd Earl of Gowrie, and his brother Alexander. The official narrative of the Gowrie Conspiracy, provided afterwards by the king, was that he and fifteen retainers, Erskine among them, had arrived at Gowrie House one night in August 1600 because he had been invited there by Alexander. However, as the narrative goes, the two brothers attempted to assassinate James, and in the melee that followed, the two Ruthvens were killed. While this was happening at Gowrie House, the other two Ruthven brothers, William and Patrick, were at Dirleton, apparently unaware of the plot afoot. Finding much to doubt in the king's account, many have argued that James went to Gowrie House with his retinue for the express purpose of murdering John and Alexander, partly because the king owed the Earl of Gowrie a large sum of money and partly because there had long been a rumor that Gowrie was the grandson of James IV, which, if true, would have put him in line for the throne ahead of James VI. After the killings, the king divided the Gowrie estates and bestowed them on the men who had been with him that night. Erskine received the gift of Dirleton Castle in November 1600, which some perceive to be a form of "blood money." This perception is further substantiated by the fact that Erskine was created Baron Erskine of Dirletowne in 1604. Erskine sold the castle to Sir James Douglas in 1625. Douglas sold it on to Alexander Morieson of Prestongrange, who sold it in turn, in 1631, to James Maxwell of Innerwick (d. c. 1650), who was created Earl of Dirletoun in 1646. Dirleton ceased to be a residence, although Oliver Cromwell was forced to besiege the castle to flush out a band of "mosstroopers" (marauders), during the Third English Civil War in 1650. The damaged castle was then acquired by John Nisbet, Lord Dirleton, who decided to build a new country house on the nearby Archerfield Estate. The Nisbet family of Dirleton continued to maintain the castle's gardens, before handing Dirleton into state care in 1923. The ruins and gardens are now maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.



Dirleton Castle


Roslin Castle


In the words of Sir Walter Scott, 'A morning of leisure can scarcely be anywhere more delightfully spent than in the woods of Rosslyn.' Roslin or Rosslyn Castle is a partially ruined castle near the village of Roslin in Midlothian, Scotland. It is just over 7 miles south of Edinburgh, on the north bank of the North Esk, only a few hundred metres from the famous Rosslyn Chapel. There has been a castle on the site since the early 14th century, when the Sinclair family, Earls of Caithness and Barons of Roslin, fortified the site, although the present ruins are of slightly later date. Following destruction during the War of the Rough Wooing of 1544, the castle was rebuilt. This structure, built into the cliffs of Roslin Glen, has remained at least partially habitable ever since. The castle is accessed via a high bridge, which replaced an earlier drawbridge. Roslin was renovated in the 1980s and now serves as holiday accommodation. The castle was built on a rocky promontory near the site of the Battle of Roslin, where the Scots defeated the English in 1303. Henry's son Henry, 2nd Earl of Orkney (c. 1375-1422) built a new rectangular, round-cornered keep at the south-west corner. The courtyard was entered via a drawbridge over an artificial ditch, giving access to a pend in the small north range. The castle contained a scriptorium during the 15th century, and five St Clair manuscripts, dating back to 1488, are in the National Library of Scotland. These include the Rosslyn-Hay manuscript, believed to be the earliest extant work in Scots prose. The castle was damaged by a domestic fire in 1452. Legend has it that during the domestic fire the Earl was in consternation because of his valuable manuscripts but they were lowered to safety from a window by his chaplain. Roslin was more severely damaged by the Earl of Hertford, who burned the castle during the War of the Rough Wooing in 1544. The keep was almost totally destroyed, although its one remaining ruined wall can still be seen.

The castle was rebuilt in the late 16th century. A new five-storey east range was built into the side of the rock, and the gatehouse was rebuilt, this time with a permanent stone bridge. The upper part of the east range was renovated in 1622, with renaissance details and carving to door and window surrounds. Roslin suffered again from the artillery of Cromwell's commander in Scotland, General Monck, in 1650. It was further damaged by a Reforming mob in 1688. By the 18th century the structure was dilapidated, though part of the east range has always remained habitable. James St Clair-Erskine, 2nd Earl of Rosslyn inherited the Rosslyn and Dysart estates in 1789, from his cousin James Paterson St Clair, upon which he adopted the surname of St Clair-Erskine. James was the son of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Erskine of Alva, 5th Baronet, and Janet Wedderburn, daughter of Peter Wedderburn. The Erskines of Alva descend from John Erskine, 23rd and 2nd Earl of Mar, 1st Lord Cardross. In 1805, James St Clair-Erskine inherited the title of Earl of Rosslyn, created 1801 for Alexander Wedderburn. Since that date, the Rosslyn estate has been in possession of the Earl of Rosslyn. From 1982 to 1988, the east range was restored by architects Simpson and Brown. The current owner, The Rt Hon. Peter St Clair-Erskine, 7th Earl of Rosslyn, leases the castle as holiday accommodation via the Landmark Trust. The castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and a Category A listed building. Roslin Castle is one of the places featuring in Sir Walter Scott's poem Rosabelle. The castle was also used as a location for Ron Howard's film adaptation of Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code.



Roslin Castle


Dunimarle Castle


Dunimarle Castle is located a mile west of Culross. A fortified castle was built here in the medieval period, making use of the hilltop location and views out across the Forth. The earliest medieval castle belonging to the MacDuffs, Thanes of Fife, was built to take advantage of the defensive, coastal site. Castlehill, a small 18th century mansion house was built further east to exploit the site's picturesque qualities. The Blaw family owned the estate from the 16th century until 1830, when it was sold to Lady Margaret Keith of Tulliallan. Shortly afterwards the small mansion was incorporated into a castellated villa (1839-45) for Mrs Magdalene Sharpe Erskine (1787-1872), sister and heir to Sir John Drummond Erskine of Torrie (1776-1836) a cadet branch of the Earls of Buchan. Her marriage to Admiral Kilpatrick Sharpe, when in her 50s, lasted three days after which a permanent separation was arranged. She turned her attentions to her estate, changing its name to Dunimarle, and transformed the property, commissioning the architects Robert and Richard Dickson, whose 'general concept' for their design derived 'from Nash's East Cowes Castle'. This composition relied on an asymmetrical and irregular outline to the Castle and careful consideration of its orientation in relation to its seaside, cliff-top setting. A three-storey wing with mullioned and transomed windows and crenellated parapet was added to the east. An orangery, a castellated gateway with monumental iron gates, a castellated garden gate, drum tower and screen wall, and an extensive raised terrace enclosed the forecourt. To the south a long terrace overlooking the Forth and backed by a crenellated garden wall extended the picturesque composition. Extensive garden grounds were laid out and in 1872 a chapel was built in these grounds, designed by Rowand Anderson. The interior was completed by 1876 and some of the details were based on the nearby Culross Abbey Church. Evidently the castle fell out of regular use and was not regularly lived in after the end of the 19th century. It was largely ruinous by the later 20th century. Dunimarle Castle was bought by a businessman in 2008 and has been restored to a family home. It is not known if the former Dunimarle Chapel has been renovated. The chapel is in private grounds and has not been possible to visit.

Mrs Sharpe Erskine, who inherited a collection of pictures from her brother, was an avid fine and decorative arts collector. She endowed Dunimarle as a museum of art (c 1853) to display her collection of 850 works. These remained at the museum, which opened to the public in 1872, until the 1950s. In 1870 she commissioned the architect Robert Rowand Anderson to design St Serf's Chapel. Mrs Sharpe-Erskine died in 1872 and the estate was put into the hands of trustees. In 1872 a flash-flood swept across the site, toppling the lower terrace wall and walk (below the Castle). The walk was re-instated and the slopes modified. Mrs Sharpe Erskine's collection finally left Dunimarle Castle in 1995, when the National Galleries of Scotland transferred it to Duff House to form the basis of the collection there. The Castle and grounds are administered and managed by the Sharp Erskine Trust.



Dunimarle Castle


Dumbarton Castle


Dumbarton Castle sits on a plug of volcanic basalt known as Dumbarton Rock. It has the longest recorded history of any stronghold in Scotland. The King of Dumbarton in about AD 570 was Riderch Hael, who features in Welsh and Latin works. During his reign Merlin was said to have stayed at Alt Clut. The medieval Scalacronica of Sir Thomas Grey records the legend that "Arthur left Hoel of Brittany his nephew sick at Alcluit in Scotland." Hoel made a full recovery, but was besieged in the castle by the Scots and Picts. The story first appeared in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. Amongst lists of three things, in the triads of the Red Book of Hergest, the third "Unrestrained Ravaging" was Aeddan Fradog (the Wily, perhaps Aedan mac Gabrain), coming to the court of Rhydderch the Generous at Alclud, who left neither food nor drink nor beast alive. This battle also appears in stories of Myrddin Wyllt, the Merlin of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, perhaps conflated with the battle of Arfderydd, located as Arthuret by some authors.

Uilleam, 4th Mormaer of Mar held the post of Sheriff of Dumbarton between 1264 and 1266, a post which opened up connections in the western Highlands. In 1357, Sir Robert Erskine, son of Sir William Erskine and Beatrix Stewart of Crawford was an ambassador to England who helped negotiate the deliverance of King David in 1357 after his capture in the battle of Durham in 1346. On his restoration, David appointed Sir Robert Justiciary north of the Forth, and Constable and Keeper of the castles of Edinburgh and Dumbarton. Sir Alexander Eskine, 15th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 3rd Lord Erskine held the office of Governor of Dumbarton Castle.



Dumbarton Castle


Edinburgh Castle


Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century the castle's residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. As mentioned aboved, Sir Robert Erskine was made Constable and Keeper of Edinburgh Castle as well as Dumbarton Castle, for helping to accomplish the deliverance of King David. His son Thomas Erskine was one of the hostages held as collateral. After James Douglas, Earl of Morton resigned the Regency of Scotland, on 28 March 1578, Alexander Erskine of Gogar, (d. 1592) a son of John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine and Lady Margaret Campbell, was appointed Keeper of Edinburgh Castle. In 1615 John Erskine, 20th and 3rd Earl of Mar was appointed Governor of Edinburgh Castle. He supported Charles I of England and fought for the royalists at the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645. The family estates were forfeited for their support of the royalists but were later restored by Charles II of England in 1660.



Edinburgh Castle


Stirling Castle


Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times. Most of the principal buildings of the castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A few structures of the fourteenth century remain, while the outer defences fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.

Sir Robert Erskine, 1st Lord Erskine, for his patriotic services was, by David II, appointed Constable, Keeper, and Captain of Stirling Castle. Sir John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine held the office of Constable of Stirling Castle before 1525. John Erskine, 18th and 1st Earl of Mar and 6th Lord Erskine was the keeper of Stirling Castle as well. The building works begun by James IV had not been completed at the time of his death at the Battle of Flodden. His successor, James V (reigned 1513-1542), was crowned in the chapel royal, and grew up in the castle under the guardianship of John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine. He had strict instructions from Margaret Tudor to hold the castle keys and set a password every night for the King's guards. The instructions were given again by act of the Parliament of Scotland in 1523. After The Restoration of Charles II, Charles Erskine, 22nd and 5th Earl of Mar was restored as Governor of Stirling Castle, and the castle was frequently used as a prison, housing several Covenanters. James, Duke of Albany, later King James VII of Scotland and II of England, visited the castle in 1681. During this time, the castle's military role became increasingly important, a powder magazine being built in the castle gardens, and a formal garrison installed from 1685. At the accession of King George I in 1714, John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar was deprived of the governorship, as well as the post of Scottish Secretary. In response, he raised the standard of James Stuart, the "Old Pretender", in the Jacobite rising of 1715. Government troops, under the Duke of Argyll, quickly moved to occupy the fortress, then advanced to Sheriffmuir to block Mar's way. The Battle of Sheriffmuir was inconclusive, but the rising was effectively over. The Jacobite rising of 1745 saw Charles Edward Stuart lead his army of Highlanders past Stirling on the way to Edinburgh. Following the Jacobites' retreat from England, they returned to Stirling in January 1746. The town soon surrendered, but the castle governor refused to capitulate. Artillery works were set up on Gowan Hill, but were quickly destroyed by the castle's guns. Despite victory at Falkirk, the Jacobites withdrew north on 1 February.

Stirling Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is now a tourist attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland.



Stirling Castle


Mar's Wark


John Erskine, 18th and 1st Earl of Mar and 6th Lord Erskine was the keeper of Stirling Castle when he began construction of the magnificent townhouse Mar's Wark in the 1560s or 1570s. Mar intended the building for the principal residence of the Erskine family in Stirling, whose chief had become hereditary keeper of the nearby royal Stirling Castle where the princes of Scotland were schooled. Wark is a Scots language word for work, and here it means building. The house is also called "Mar's Lodging." King James VI stayed here, and the house was repaired for use as a barracks during the 1715 Jacobite Rising. The facade is all that survives today of this courtyard townhouse, but it remains an impressive example of Renaissance architecture. Probably inspired by James V's palace at the castle up the hill, it has liberal embellishments, including heraldic panels, decorative gargoyles and statuettes. The middle Scots inscriptions carved on the gatehouse centrepiece refer to the onlooker's appreciation of the architecture and the eminence of the John Erskine himself in the building's own voice:

South tower
I pray all luikaris on this luging
With gentile E to gif thair juging
I pray all lookers on this lodging,
With gentle eye to give their judging.

North tower
The moir I stand on oppin hitht
My faultis moir subject ar to sitht
The more I stand on open height,
My faults more subject are to sight.
(As I am so prominent, so my faults are more obvious)

Internal (exit) arch
Esspy speik furth and spair nocht
Considder veil I cair notht
See, speak forth and spare not (or possibly; question not),
Consider well, I care not.

It seems from the records of Stirling burgh that Countess Annabella continued to use the building. As the lodging commands Broad Street and the town it was later used to mount artillery during civil unrest. It is now a ruin under the care of Historic Scotland.



Mar's Wark


Dryburgh Abbey


Dryburgh Abbey, near Dryburgh on the banks of the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders, was nominally founded on 10 November (Martinmas) 1150 in an agreement between Hugh de Morville, Constable of Scotland, and the Premonstratensian canons regular from Alnwick Abbey in Northumberland. The arrival of the canons along with their first abbot, Roger, took place on 13 December 1152. It was burned by English troops in 1322, after which it was restored only to be again burned by Richard II in 1385, but it flourished in the fifteenth century. It was finally destroyed in 1544, briefly to survive until the Scottish Reformation, when it was given to John Erskine, 19th and 2nd Earl of Mar, 7th Lord Erskine and 1st Lord Cardross by James VI of Scotland. Henry Erskine, John's son received the titular title of commendator of Dryburgh Abbey. In the 1700s, the ivy-clad ruin attracted the attention of David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan and chief founder of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. David bought Dryburgh House and set about creating a charming landscape in which the ancient abbey figured prominently. When he died in 1829, he was laid to rest in its sacristy. Sir Walter Scott, antiquarian and novelist, and David's close friend, was buried here three years later, on 26 September 1832. His tomb is in the north transept, which he called "St Mary's Aisles". A third great Scot, Field-Marshal Earl Haig, was interred beside Scott in 1928. It is now a designated scheduled monument and the surrounding landscape is included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, and is a Category A listed building.



Ruins of Dryburgh Abbey


The House of Dun


The House of Dun, or the Dun Estate was home to the Erskine (later Kennedy-Erskine) of Dun family from 1375 until 1980. The house may date from the 18th century, but there have been Erskines at Dun since 1375, when Sir Robert Erskine of that Ilk bought the estate. John Erskine of Dun was a close friend of John Knox and a key figure in the Scottish Reformation, he helped establish the Reformed Church in Scotland. In 1610 John Erskine, the 10th laird of Dun, and his younger brother, Alexander Erskine, were poisoned by their uncle Robert and his three sisters, who would inherit if the two men were removed from the line of succession. John died, but Alexander somehow survived. Robert and the two eldest sisters were executed, and the third sister was granted clemency due to her youth and her overt penitence. She was exiled to Orkney. Subsequent Erskines managed to fritter away the family fortune (some had a reputation for gambling), but the 13th laird, David Erskine, rose to prominence as a lawyer. It was he who decided to build the mansion at Dun to replace the earlier tower house. A wonderful example of a medium-sized mansion, the House of Dun stands on an elevated bit of land overlooking the Montrose Basin nature reserve. The house replaced the original 14th Century Tower House to the west when David Erskine, the 13th Laird of Dun, an Edinburgh lawyer appointed Lord of Justiciary in 1710, wanted a more comfortable and prestigious home. It was designed for him by William Adam and took 13 years to complete. Work had commenced in 1732 and was finished in 1743. There is elaborate plaster-work by Joseph Enzer, principally and most elaborately in the saloon. It continued as the home to the Erskines for a further 250 years, undergoing some internal re-modeling when Lady Augusta Fitzclarence, natural daughter to William lV (previously the Duke of Clarence) and his long term mistress, Dora Jordan, married the Honourable John Kennedy Erskine, heir to the property through his mother Margaret Erskine of Dun. When they married they moved to the property and Augusta set about making a number of alterations, modernizing the property. The writer and poet Violet Jacob (1863 - 1946), author of "Flemington" and "Tales of Angus", was a member of the Kennedy-Erskine family and was born in the house. The last Laird of Dun was Mrs. Millicent Lovett. She moved out of the house to an estate house "temporarily" in 1948, moving all the furnishings and artifacts up into the attic. The rest of the house was leased to a local farming family who ran it as a bed and breakfast establishment for many years. Millicent never returned to the house and on her death in 1980 it was bequeathed by her to the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust discovered all the original furnishings in the attic and spent 9 years returning the house to the state it had been in at the time of Augusta. In 1989 the house opened to the public, the Queen Mother presiding to mark the tercentenary of William Adam's death. In the grounds, just above the children's adventure playground, is a modern sculpture depicting a sword impaled in a tree stump. The sculpture is a reminder of an old local tale about a knight who went on the Crusades. He returned home to discover that another knight had married his wife, claiming that he was dead. The 'second husband' told the wife that it was the knight's dying wish that they marry. The two knights fought, and just as it seemed the dishonest knight would win, the wife grabbed her true husband's sword and slew the second knight, the sword passing through his body and lodging in a tree behind him. You can get good views of the main house from the sculpture. Walking trails lead from the Dun estate around Montrose Basin, now managed as a reserve by Scottish Wildlife Trust. The Basin is home to up to 30,000 geese during the winter months and is a haven for other birdlife throughout the year.



House of Dun


Earl of Mar's Punchbowl


It was on 6th September 1715 that the Jacobite Rising of 1715 began in somewhat unorthodox fashion. A couple of weeks earlier at the end of August, John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar had travelled from London north to Braemar. Mar was one of the most powerful men in Scotland, he was Governor of Stirling Castle and from 1705 was Secretary of State for Scotland. However, when King George I came into power, in 1714, he fell out of favour and left the capital, returning to his estate in Scotland where he took up the Jacobite cause. Here he summoned clan leaders to a grand hunting match. Some say there were as many as 800 men present who went hunting in Glen Quoich. At the Linn of Quoich, a natural bowl carved into the rock was filled with brandy or whisky and the men drank to a Jacobite Rising. To this day the "Earl of Mar's punchbowl" can still be seen, though the bottom of the pot has long since broken away. Following his hunting party the Earl of Mar declared James II & VIII King of Scotland, England and Ireland at Kirkmichael in Braemar.



Earl of Mar's Punchbowl


Mar Hall


Mar Hall is a 5-star hotel and golf resort in Erskine, Renfrewshire, situated inside Erskine House, a Category A listed building. The Lords Blantyre came into ownership of the Erskine Estate and Erskine House during the early 18th century. In 1828 Major General Robert W. Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre commissioned the present house. Erskine House (1828-45) sits amidst 200 acres of the Earl of Mar Estate, and was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum. The name recalls the Erskine Estate's former ownership by the Earl of Mar. Smirke was commissioned by Major General Robert Walter Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre, whose family had purchased the grounds and estate some one hundred years previously. Lord Blantyre - a military man who served in the army with great distinction during the Egyptian and Peninsular wars throughout the 1810's, and latterly held the title Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, ultimately never saw his home after meeting his end during the Brussels revolutionary insurrections of 1830, a mere two years after construction had began. Building began in 1828, where a quarry on the estate provided the stone whilst the oak used throughout was specifically imported from Canada. It was Smirke's wish that the building resemble the manorial, domestic gothic styles seen during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. Construction was not completed until 1845, fifteen years after Lord Blantyre's death with the final bill coming to over 50,000 pounts - nearly half a million pounds in today's money.

A former World War I hospital, the house fell into disrepair over the remainder of the 20th century and it was only in 2004, following a 15 million pound restoration that it was restored to its former glory. 52 lavishly designed bedrooms and suites were designed in addition to retaining as many original features. The rooms proudly sit with breath-taking views over the River Clyde and Old Kilpatrick hills or over our beautiful manicured gardens. May 2010 saw the opening of a new 18hole Earl of Mar Golf Course, designed by David Thomas Jr, and Mar Hall hosts Pro-Am tournaments throughout the year. The hotel also has a swimming pool and gym.



Mar Hall





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