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Baldoon Castle

Murdered on her wedding night

Baldoon Castle: "There never was trouble brewing in Scotland but that a Dalrymple or a Campbell was at the bottom of it!" -- so Charles II is reputed to have said. The Dalrymple family home in Wigtownshire was Carscreugh Castle now in ruins. From the family home one day in the middle of the 17th century a bridal procession set off -- with a most reluctant bride. Janet Dalrymple was madly in love with Archibald, third -- and penniless -- son of Lord Rutherford.

The parental foot had been set down very firmly however on any romantic notions the young couple may have had a union with David, eldest son of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon was all arranged for Janet.
No one knows exactly what occurred in the bridal chamber that night, for ever after the bridegroom refused to talk about it. All sorts of rumours were bandied around. One claims the bride in her grief went insane and attacked her unwanted husband. Another says no it was Archibald, who~ madly jealous, somehow or other concealed himself in the room until the newly-weds were alone, then sprang out and attacked the groom. Yet again it is the groom himself who is said to have stabbed his reluctant bride . . . whatever the case, Janet ended up mortally wounded.

The paths of the two families who had been so eager to unite took widely different paths after that. The Dalrymples became better known by the title they received shortly after -- Earls of Stair. As the Master of Stair John Dairymple eventually became Secretary of State for Scotland and was responsible for the Massacre of Glencoe. The Dunbars of Baldoon turned their energies to the improving of agriculture that was beginning to take effect in the last quarter of the 17th century. In his way Sir David Dunbar was a pioneer of the enclosed land for grazing and the importation of cattle--albeit illicit--from Ireland. Sir David recovered enough from his first unhappy matrimonial venture to wed a daughter of the 7th Earl of Eglinton.

What that lady thought of the ghost of her husband's first wife haunting the castle is not known. But legend lives on in more than tradition for the tale so captured the imagination of Sir Walter Scott that he wove "The Bride of Lammermuir" round the tragic heroine. Janet's ghostly figure clad in her blood-splattered white bridal gown, is often seen at Baldoon especially on the anniversary of her dreadful experience.

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