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Glenbuchat Castle is a historic Z plan Scottish castle built in 1590 for John Gordon of Cairnbarrow to mark his wedding. It is located above the River Don, near Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire. The building is roofless, but otherwise in fairly good repair.

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Published by dwwaddell, 2015-10-24 06:50:23

Glenbuchat Castle

Glenbuchat Castle is a historic Z plan Scottish castle built in 1590 for John Gordon of Cairnbarrow to mark his wedding. It is located above the River Don, near Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire. The building is roofless, but otherwise in fairly good repair.

Keywords: Glenbuchat Castle


Sometimes spelled ‘Glenbucket’, this Z-plan tower house, now
roofless but far from ruinous, stands on rising ground above the
river Don it was built in 1590 by John Gordon and Helen Carnegie
whose fate-challenging motto inscribed above the lintel—‘No thing on
Earth remains bot faime’—is now, suitably, illegible. Both square and
round turrets protrude from the corners, the stair turrets in the re-
entrant angles are supported on arches, or ‘squinches’, an unusual and
attractive arrangement.

Jacobites to the last, the Gordons joined both the 1715 rising
(proximity to Kildrummy may have given them little choice) and the
1745, forfeiting their lands after Culloden.

Glenbuchat belonged in succession to two branches of the Gordon
family. The builder was John Gordon of Cairnburrow who marked the
occasion of his second marriage, to Helen Carnegie, daughter of Sir
Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird in Angus, by having the castle built, in
1590, as the stone inscriptions above the entrance records. Like other
members of his clan, he was accused of complicity in the murder of the
"Bonnie Earl o' Moray" 1592 as a result of which his house was

occupied by government soldiers during the Catholic rising two years
later. This, however, was an isolated incident of the castle figuring in
national events and the story of Glenbuchat was largely uneventful, the
peace of the household disturbed on occasion only by domestic

The chief difficulty came with the rivalry between John's second and
third sons, Adam and John. Adam in 1623 seized Glenbuchat from his
brother John, the rightful owner, and despite the intervention of the
Privy Council and temporary confinement within the tollbooth of
Edinburgh, he succeeded in retaining possession.

The first line of Glenbuchat Gordons gave way in 1701 to another
branch when John Gordon of Knockespock purchased the estate for his
son, also John. In sharp contrast to his unruly predecessors, the new
laird acquired an almost legendary reputation as an unswerving
supporter of the Jacobite cause. He sold the estate in 1738, before his
last, tragic stand against the House of Hanover.

The remodelling of the interior of the castle was most likely carried
out shortly after 1701 to make the residence more comfortable and
amenable for its new laird, John Gordon of Glenbuchat. But by the time
of its resale in 1738 it had ceased to be a residence of gentry; it was
partly unroofed and inhabited by a farmer. In 1901 the estate was
bought by Mr. James Barclay, MP, who carried out much-needed
repairs. In 1946 the castle was placed in state care by Col. James
Barclay Milne and two years later the Deeside Field Club purchased the
Castle park and gifted it to the nation. It is now in the care of Historic
Scotland. Currently closed and fenced off it is apparently unlikely to re-
open to the public until 2015.

Major General John Gordon of Glenbucket

Described by his contemporaries as: “A craggy old man of seventy or
more, his body twisted by rheumatism, he was a man of little property,
living in Strathbogie”, he liked the highlanders and had married his
many daughters amongst them. Described as an inveterate Jacobite, he
had been out in '89 with Dundee, and in the '15 he commanded a
battalion of Gordons at Sherriffmuir. In the '45 uprising he held the
rank of Major General, but due to his age and infirmity he did not
exercise his rank. He did however lead his regiment throughout the
Rising and at Culloden, where he is described as sitting at the head of
his regiment on a grey highland pony. Despite his age he still had a
considerable reputation with the government troops.

In Feb. '46 a raid on Corgarff castle by a government force of 300
foot and 100 dragoons was abandoned due to a rumour that

Glenbucket and his men were in the area. He supposedly gave King
George nightmares; during the march to Derby, King George is said to
have exclaimed in alarm "De great Glenboggit is coming!”

In the '45, Glenbucket led 300 men for Charles. According to some
sources, Glenbucket might just have made it to Prestonpans as he was a
member of the official council consisting, amongst others, of the Duke
of Perth, Lord George Murray, Lord Elcho, O'Sullivan etc. who met at
Edinburgh after the battle and decided to stay there for the meantime.
Yet other sources maintain that Glenbucket with 150 of his men was
with the Prince shortly before he set out to raise the standard at
Glenfinnan on the 19th August 45 and that Glenbucket even brought
the Prince news of the first Jacobite victory. After the disastrous defeat
at Culloden, Old Glenbucket actually survived and managed to escape
from the battlefield and gathered with others like Lovat, Lochiel, the
MacDonnell chieftains etc. at the head of Loch Arkaig, hoping to re-
launch the 45. He finally escaped on a Swedish sloop on 25th
November and was expressly exempted from the Act of Indemnity of
June 1747. He died in Bolougne on 16th June 1750. In addition, it is
recorded that his son, also named John Gordon, was amongst the
captives taken at Inverness after the battle. He is described as being
half blind with drink.

Major–General Glenbucket’s Regiment

The regiment was formed in October 1745 and was recruited of men
from highland or near highland areas, and from highlanders owing no
particular allegiance to any chief. Glenbucket also recruited from the
Duke of Gordon's estates, where he gained a reputation as "A most
terrifying press officer", driving in every able bodied man and boy he
could find. He also took every horse, not excepting those belonging to
the duke. The Jacobite authorities demanded that landowners should
supply an able bodied man for the army for every £100 (scots) of
landed rent. Alternatively they could pay £5 (sterling) in lieu of a man.
Allegations were rife at the time that the Jacobites were more
interested in getting the money than the recruits. Old John Gordon of
Glenbucket however always refused offers of money instead of men.

The original size of the regiment is not known, but at Culloden it is
listed as being 200 strong, but by that time it may have been well down
on its strength due to losses and desertion, as was the entire Jacobite

It is known that the regiment was quite well equipped as, Murray of
Broughton recorded that Gordon of Glenbucket's and the first battalion
of Lord Ogilvy's were both equipped with arms captured from Cope's
army at Prestonpans. But evidence suggests that by the time of
Culloden, the entire Jacobite army was armed with French and Spanish
muskets to simplify the weapons supply.

It is also known that Glenbucket's had at least two cannon, which
they used at Ruthven barracks. The regiment seems to have been quite
well organised and disciplined, Colonel O'Sullivan, one of the Prince's
Irish staff officers, commented that "John Gordon of Glenbucket was
the only Scot I ever knew, who was able to start at the fixed hour.”

Glenbucket's Regiment took part in the advance into England and
the return from Derby. One Company of the Regiment formed part of
the garrison, which was left behind at Carlisle. The regiment also
played its part in the Skirmish of Clifton on 18th December and the
Battle of Falkirk on 17th January 1746. Shortly before Falkirk with the
Highland Army under Lord George Murray drawn up near
Bannockburn and expecting an attack from Hawley's superior force,
about 1000—1200 men were left under the command of the Duke of
Perth and Gordon of Glenbucket to continue the siege of Stirling Castle.
Other sources maintain that Glenbucket's regiment was at this time in
the north of Scotland, operating against the government's independent
highland units. Another recorded action of the regiment is on the 11th
of February 1746, when John Gordon and his regiment used a couple of
guns to "persuade" Lieutenant Molly to surrender Ruthven barracks in
return for a safe passage to Perth. Glenbucket then proceeded to burn
the barracks. In March 1746, Glenbucket was again in Strathbogie
levying money and forcing men to the cause.

At the battle of Culloden, Glenbucket's had rejoined the main
Jacobite army. Originally they stood on the left in the second line,
flanked by the Perthshire Horse under Lords Strathallan and Pitsligo,
but after Lord George Murray ordered the front line of highland
regiments to close up to the right, Perth's and Glenbucket's were moved
up to the first line to fill the gap which had been created on the left
flank. When the Jacobite army advanced, both Perth's and
Glenbucket's advanced with them, but due to swampy ground and
small ponds to their front they were unable to make contact with the
enemy. So for most of the battle they engaged in a firefight with the
government troops opposite them. Glenbucket's and Perth's suffered
relatively few casualties during the battle. When the government
dragoons launched their attack, Glenbucket's and Perth's on the left
flank were able to hold them off for a short time, presumably helped by
the same swampy ground which had stopped their own advance. The
dragoons soon bypassed the two regiments in search of easier targets.
When the general retreat and disintegration of the Jacobite army
began, both regiments were able to retire from the field virtually intact
and in good order. Along with the remnants of John Roy Stewart's
regiment, Glenbucket's and Perth’s, escorted Prince Charles from the
field for at least part of the way.

There is no record of what happened to Glenbucket's regiment after
Culloden; it may have been amongst the units which gathered at
Ruthven barracks after the battle, Perth's regiment was there.
Whatever happened, the regiment was disbanded soon after Culloden,
never to be heard of again.

Some mention is made of Glenbucket's regiment in the records of
the trials held in the aftermath of the uprising. In a list of prisoners
condemned to death and subsequently reprieved, there are two
members of Glenbucket's mentioned. One was John Bennagh, sixteen,
he had been pressed into the Prince's service when old Glenbucket went
recruiting in Glenmachy; he was reprieved and sentenced to
transportation to the Americas, but he died of starvation in prison
before he could be taken to a ship. The other was James Gordon, the
fifteen year old son of the Laird of Terpersie, he too claimed to have

been pressed, but perhaps he did not mind this too much, for his
brother was an officer of Glenbucket's, and was later to be hanged for
it, and James himself was listed on the muster roll as a Lieutenant of
artillery. He was reprieved, but spent two years in prison before a
transport took him to Jamaica, where Lord Adam Gordon found him
twenty years later.

Another member of the regiment mentioned in some books is the
regimental priest, Father John Tyrie. In Strathavon when recruiting
was taking place, Fathers Grant and Tyrie cast lots to see who would
have the honour of going to war with their communicants. Father Tyrie
won and went off to march to Derby, armed with prayers and pistols.
He is also mentioned at Culloden as "standing in line next to old
Glenbucket with sword and targe, when it all ended at Culloden.”

James Reid, the piper captured at Carlisle and subsequently
executed for playing an "instrument of war", but there were other
pipers taken prisoner and released later. Names include James
Campbell, piper to Glengyle, Nicholas Carr, piper to Glenbucket,
Robert Jameson, piper to the Duke of Perth (and also Town Piper for
Arbroath), John Sinclair of Ogilvie's and the unfortunate blind piper
Allan MacDougall, who had marched piping straight into the hands of
the enemy at the battle of Falkirk

Compiled by Glen MacDonald

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