Sunday, June 27, 2010

Exploring Scotland 1 Castle at a Time, Part 15, Corgarff Castle

One of the most unusual castles that we saw while in Scotland was Corgarff Castle. Perched atop a high ridge in the middle of a plateau that stretches for miles, it’s a lonely sight. When I first saw it I thought it looked more like a huge manor house.

Corgarff used to have gray harling on the outside. Now it’s a striking white. At one time the Castle would have been surrounded by a rectangular curtain wall. The stones littering the ground may have been part of that wall.

The curtain wall is actually an eight pointed star shape with a narrow stone courtyard between the wall and the house. While we were there they were doing some repair work and we couldn’t photograph the structure completely.

Corgarff was built in 1550 by John Forbes of Towie. It was built within the path of the quickest route between Deeside and Speyside. The Forbes were supporters of James VI. Their neighbors the Gordons were supporters of Queen Mary. Their different political views sparked a feud between the two clans. In 1571 Adam Gordon tried to take Corgarff. The Forbes men folk were gone and Margaret Forbes refused to surrender and shot at the Gordons striking one of the men in the leg. Adam Gordon set fire to the castle and burnt it to the ground killing Margaret and 27 other women and children inside.

In 1607 the castle was taken over by a local bandits until 1628 when the Earl of Marr acquired it. In 1645 the Marquis of Montross used it as a base during the Civil War. Then in 1689 the castle was burned by Jacobite supporters to prevent supporters of William of Orange from using it.

In 1715 the 25th Earl of Marr launched the Jacobite uprising from Kildrummy Castle. Corgarff Castle was burned again when the uprising was defeated and the Earl’s estates were forfeited.

The castle was returned to the Forbes family. But during the next Jacobite uprising it was used as an arms storage facility by the Jacobites. 300 government troops surprised the Jacobites and they fled leaving the stockpile behind which was confiscated.

In 1748 Corgarff was converted into a military barracks. The 50 soldiers who lived there patrolled for Scotsmen who disobeyed the no kilt edict after Culloden, or smuggled whiskey or weapons. It was the army who built the two small wings onto the tower house.

By 1802 it was a farmhouse. But the government purchased it again to run patrols searching for whiskey distillation. The army left in 1831.

Before the first World War it had become the home of the Ross sisters.

After they left it began to decline. Historic Scotland acquired it in 1961 and restored it to the condition it was in in 1748 as a barracks. This would have been the view the troops would have seen from the windows above. A lonely call to duty to be sure.

Tomorrow I'll be talking about a castle I mentioned in this blog. Kildrummy Castle.  Teresa R.


Sandra Robbins said...

Thank you for posting about your dream vacation. I've never been to Scotland, but I loved visiting England. Your pictures brought back a lot of memories.

As a former music teacher and principal, I can just imagine what wonderful art projects you're already planning for your students this year.

Thanks for a sharing your pictures.

Sandra Robbins

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks for commenting on the blog Sandra. And yes I have some are projects that I'll be teaching this year about some of the art forms that I saw.
The interwoven celtic designs that border the head stones and etc. for one.
Teresa R.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Definitely a stark surrounding in comparison to what is available to see in the Highlands. Thanks again. I love the history you're adding along with your beautiful photos.

Anita Clenney said...

What an interesting story. Those poor women and children. Loved this post.

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks for being so faithful reading the blog. Each place we went to was steeped in history. And the people there were so good about telling you all about it. We had some wonderful guides. The lady at the gift shop here knew the whole history of the place of course and shared it with us.

It is a terrible tragedy. I wondered what might have happened to the man responsible, but couldn't find out.
I'm sure he got his just rewards later.

Teresa R.

Annabelle Ambrosio said...

Thank you again for the lovely pictures. I'm never going to get to Scotland, so this has been a great treat for me. My ancestors on my father's side were Scotch Irish.

Teresa Reasor said...

Never say never. I didn't think I'd ever be able to go either. It took my five years to save the money. And we had several things that I feared would keep us from going.The Iceland volcano erupted and I just knew our flight would be canceled. But it wasn't and we made it.
Don't deny your dream. There's always a way.

Thanks for following the blog.
Teresa R.