In September 2019 the Scottish Castles Association's two-day tour, organised by our president Professor Richard Oram, saw us visit a wide range of castles in the stunning Perthshire scenery.
Leaving our hotel at Perth on a fine autumn morning our first stop was the ruined enclosure castle of the Kings of Scots.
Kinclaven appears to be of early 13th century date, possibly the work of King William the Lion (1165-1214) or his son King Alexander II (1214-49).
Tradition claims it was destroyed by William Wallace, but tis is perhaps confused with its recorded capture by Andrew Moray in 1336-7. There is little evidence for its post-Wars of Independence existence.
The great mound occupied by the medieval castle at Clunie might have been the site of a royal centre.
Medieval occupation is known from 1141, when King David I (1124-53) based himself here and it was briefly occupied by Edward I in his triumphant tour of Scotland in 1296 and seems last to have been a royal residence in the reign of King David II (1329-71)
Bishop George Brown had permission to use stone from the castle for his new tower in 1513, four men were employed for a year to clear the rubble from the summit.
One of the tour highlights, Airlie Castle was built in the 1430s and until the early seventeenth century the principal residence of the Ogilvies.
The castle occupies a steep-sided headland where the River Isla and Melgam Water meet.
Remains of a broad ditch cut across the promontory immediately behind which rises the 15th century enceinte (enclosing wall). Towards the N end of the enceinte is a gateway, defended by a portcullis operated from the first floor of a high gatehouse tower.
The eclectic, rambling group of buildings dating from the 15th-19th centuries that comprises Murthly Castle is one of the finest multi-period houses where successive phases are so clearly visible to survive in Scotland.
Murthly was in the hands of the Abercrombies of that ilk and it was probably them who started the earliest work now visible in the castle at the lower stages of the SW tower.
Gleneagles Old Tower
Our first call on Sunday morning was Gleneagles – not the famous hotel – but the stump of the 15th century tower of that name standing on an apparently natural mound, which may have been scarped and modified to form a motte.
The remains are of a double-height barrel-vaulted basement, originally with a timber entresol floor and stone partition walls dividing it into cellars. The entrance, at entresol (or mezzanine) level at the SE angle, opened into a lobby from which a stair rose to the second floor.
Tullibardine Castle site and Chapel
The latter is the only serving element from a rich ‘landscape of power’ developed by the Murrays of Tullibardine around Sheri castle in the later 15th century. The chapel was built as the focus of their devotions and might have been intended to become a collegiate church.
The family were notable Jacobites and the Marquis of Tullibardine was captured after Culloden in 1746 to die in the Tower of London. His titles and estates were forfeited and the castle destroyed of which not a trace remains.
Rising above its magnificent gardens the castle gives some impression of what has been lost with the demolition of Tullibardine Castle.
John Lord Drummond’s great tower rises through four storeys above a vaulted basement. The entrance was at first floor level, giving access to a reception chamber, from where one stair goes down to the basement while the main stair rises to the hall on the floor above. The two upper levels and garret chamber within a parapet walk have been heavily restored. The tower is built partly on top of a rock outcrop.
Located on the ‘Dry Island’ of Monzievaird – the ‘wet’ island in the loch is a crannog site and may have continued in use into the later medieval period – the surviving tower at Castle Cluggy is a building of uncertain date.
The castle stood at the heart of a century-long feud between the Drummonds of Concraig and the Murrays of Tullibardine for domination within the crown’s earldom of Strathearn. Although the earliest clear reference to the site dates from 1467, it refers to it as an ‘old fortalice’ at that time.
A dispute with the Abbot of Inchaffray resulted in 20 Murrays being burned to death in the local parish church where they had sought safety.
James IV had Lord Murrays' son beheaded and ordered his father to compensate the wives and children of those who died in the dispute. Met with refusal, James slapped them prison.
Although the castle looks like one structure it is in fact three – the 15th century tower to the right being joined to the slightly later on the left and the gap between completed the following century.
It was known as Ruthven Castle until that family was forfeited for their part in the Gowrie Conspiracy – an audacious attempt to kidnap the King. The conspirators were killed on the spot and the name Ruthven suppressed forever by Act of Parliament.
The castle is roofed with some fine painted ceilings – along with a fine colony of bats!
Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.