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Alloa Tower Clackmannanshire ScotlandAt the Reformation, the Erskines of Alloa Tower bought Cambuskenneth Abbey and sold off its stone to local builders. The former Abbot placed a curse on the Erskines, prophesying that strangers would someday own their lands. For good measure, the Abbot also prophesied that an Erskine would see his home and wife consumed by flames. His children would never see the light of day. The curse would only end when Alloa Tower was used as a stable, a weaver sat in the laird's chamber, and a sapling grew from the top of the tower. It took a while but in due course, the curse was fulfilled for the Erskines were stripped of their estates for supporting the Old Pretender in 1715. In 1801 John Erskine watched his residence, Alloa Tower, go up in flames. His wife died in the fire. She had already given birth to three blind children. Dragoons used the now ruined tower to stable their horses, and in the depression years after 1815, a homeless weaver set up shop in what had been the Earl's chamber. Around 1820 an ash sapling took root in what remained of the roof. The Erskines had finally paid their dues.

 

Alloa Tower, one of the largest tower houses in Scotland, was the ancestral home of the Erskines, Earls of Mar and Kellie. Although the bulk of their estates lay in Upper Aberdeenshire, Alloa Tower was a useful home in the Forth valley close to the royal power centres of Stirling, Linlithgow and Edinburgh. The first Erskine to stay there was Sir Robert who served as Great Chamberlain of Scotland in 1360.

Many monarchs visited the castle and the young James VI lived there for Erskine was his tutor and guardian. A local tradition holds that James died while at Alloa and was secretly replaced by a local child. The 6th Earl was a signatory of the Treaty of Union and instigator of the 1715 Rising against the Hanoverian accession. His brother James, Lord Grange, achieved notoriety when his wife Rachel disappeared in 1732. Rachel was prone to spells of insanity and James feared she would reveal his communications with Jacobites in France. Rachel was carried away in secrecy to remote St Kilda. Although her funeral was celebrated publicly in Edinburgh, she survived in various Hebridean bolt-holes until 1745. Alloa Tower and the Erskines of Mar.

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