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Barnbougle Castle

The hound of Barnbougle

Barnbougle Castle. Just off the busy A90 road from Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge. and in the shadow of the Rail Bridge. is Dalmeny.The West Lothian coastline between Cramond and South Queensferry is a paradise for sea-birds, and the level coast with woodlands coming down almost to the water's edge attracts those who prefer a quiet secluded stroll rather than a rock clamber.

Barnbougle Castle Scotland

On the shore stands Barnbougle Castle, and with it are connected the stories of two families, the Mowbrays and the Roseberys. For 300 years the estate has belonged to the Roseberys who now live at Dalmeny House, built by the fourth Earl in 1815. Barnbougle, the original house just a quarter of a mile away, came into the family's possession in the 1660s when Sir Archibald Primrose bought it for his son who was created 1st Earl of Rosebery in 1703.

Barnbougle Castle Scotland

It seems to have been a bad buy, for the 12th century castle was cold, damp and draughty, which put rather a strain on the marital relationships in the 150 years the family occupied it. The 2nd Earl didn't help matters, preferring to squander his money on his profligate ways rather than on his castle home, which naturally deteriorated. His son spent all his married life incognito on the Continent, discovering only at his wife's death that there was good reason for her reluctance to return to Britain, she had married him bigamously! He didn't survive her very long, leaving his younger brother to succeed to the Earldom.

Barnbougle Castle Scotland

It was in this period too that the Countess of Rosebery's sister was lured away while she was visiting Barnbougle. Lord Lovat of Fraser determined to make her his second wife. She spurned his advances, only to fall victim to his hoax message purporting to come from her mother. She found herself in Lord Lovat's presence in what he said was 'a house of evil repute', and to save her reputation, she married him, and lived to regret it. The third Earl was just as reluctant to spend money on his castle as was his father and as he lived to be an octogenarian it was a very dilapidated inheritance he passed on to his son. The new Countess felt she had suffered the hardships and inconveniences of Barnbougle long enough, and a year later she ran off with another man. Within three years her ex-husband was bringing his new bride to his equally new home, Dalmeny House.

His grandson who succeeded him became Prime Minister of the Liberal Government in 1894 when Gladstone resigned. By,this time Barnbougle was a dangerous ruin but instead of having it demolished Lord Rosebery had it renovated and used it as a quiet retreat to study and prepare his speeches. Before coming into the possession of the Roseberys Barnbougle had been the ancient seat of the Mowbrays. The family were deeply involved in the Crusades, serving as Knights Templar, and when that Order degenerated, turned their energies to smuggling, Barnbougle being ideally situated for such a pursuit!
Hound Point which juts out as a headland into the Firth, brings the two coast lines of Fife and West Lothian within two miles of each other. It takes its name from the legend of Sir Roger de Mowbray who went off to fight in the Crusades. As he was leaving his faithful hound looked so mournful and wailed its sorrow so loudly that Sir Roger took it along. After sundry adventures the knight fell in battle. On the night he died a hound was heard to bay all night long on the shore near Barnbougle, and since then just before a Laird of Barnbougle dies, a hound appears ·on the shore and 'a ghostly baying is heard, a legend which is immortalised in an old ballad:

"And ever when Barnbougle's lords
Are parting this scene below
Come hound and ghost to this haunted coast
With death notes winding slow. "

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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