drummer of death
to Kirriemuir in search of the birthplace of J. M. Barrie,
author of Peter Pan, will find themselves not only at the gateway
to some of the lovely glens of Angus but also in the heart of
Ogilvy country. When Princess Alexandra married the Honourable
Angus Ogilvy in 1963 she was allying herself with a family that
can trace its ancestry back a thousand years and more to Pictish
times. After Scotland became a united country Ogilvy ancestors
emerged as the first Earls of Angus. Their name and lands came
into the family as a reward from a grateful William the Lion
when the then outlawed Earl of Angus came to his aid when the
king was attacked while hunting in the area. From then the Ogilvys
were always staunch supporters of the monarchy.
the next three or four centuries advantageous marriages increased
their land in the district, but increased power and influence
brought equally powerful enemies. Constant feuding created a
need for strongholds and in the glens Airlie House was developed
into a castle planning permission granted by James I. In the
next century Forter Castle was built by an Ogilvy involved in
helping Mary Queen of Scots to escape from Lochleven.
was a time of raids and counter-raids, the chief enemies being
the Lindsays, the Crawfords and the Campbells. Religion made
a good excuse for waging fierce attacks, and when James, 7th
Lord Ogilvy, rode off in support of his king in the Civil War
and was created 1st Earl of Airlie by an appreciative monarch,
back home in Scotland staunch Protestants demanded he should
sign the National Covenant. His refusal was all the excuse his
arch enemy Argyll needed. He rallied his kinsmen. One group
was sent to destroy Forter Castle while he himself marched to
legend of his cruel and callous treatment of the ladies of the
castle is commemorated in the ballad "The Bonnie Hoose
Lady looked ower her window sae hie,
An' 0, but she grat sairly,
To see Argyll an' a' his men
Come to plunder the bonnie hoose o' Airlie"
their strongholds of Airlie, Forter and Craig in ruins, Cortachy
Castle, bought about 1623, now became Ogilvy's chief seat. Airlie
had his revenge a few years later when he joined forces with
Montrose and opportunity came to destroy Argyll's Castle Gloom.
was to Cortachy a defeated Charles II fled after Dunbar hoping
to find support mustered by Airlie. The castle was deserted
but a weary King stayed overnight in a room still referred to
as the "King's Room". A prized possession of the family
is the Prayer Book he left behind. Ogilvy fortunes ebbed and
flowed with the Stuarts. After the restoration Cortachy was
enlarged, but support of the losing side in both the '15 and
'45 ended in the Ogilvy of the day being exiled and honours
and title attainted.
pardon was granted and twenty-two years later the family returned
to Cortachy, although the title wasn't restored until 1826.
Airlie Castle was rebuilt and is used by the Dowager Countess
of Airle while Cortachy is the principal seat of the Earl. Airlie
Castle is open by appointment and both Airlie and Cortachy are
open under the Scotland's Gardens Scheme.
Castle is said to be haunted by a drummer who beats out his
summons whenever a member of the Ogilvy family nears death.
The drummer met his death by being flung from a window in the
castle tower, a punishment, some say, for philandering with
the Earl's wife. Others claim he intrigued with an attacking
enemy and allowed them to approach without beating out his warning
to the inmates of the castle.
you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized
small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:
to Scottish Castles