Balfluig Castle

Balfluig Castle, Aberdeenshire

Location

Castle Road, Alford

Road

B-road off A944

SatNav

AB33 8EJ

Balfluig Castle is set in a prominent position and was once defended by a marsh. It is a 16th century 'L' plan tower house that is now a private residence, so courtesy should be shown if you are visiting.

~ History ~


1556 ~  Clan Forbes Voussoirs build themselves a castle to secure control over their lands.


1645 ~ Following the Scottish Parliament's decision to intervene in the English Civil War on the Parliamentarian side, King Charles I appoints Montrose as his Captain-General in Scotland and charges him with conducting the Royalist resistance.

It is hoped that by carrying out a disruptive campaign in Scotland, Montrose will tie down Parliamantary troops that would otherwise be used in the war in England.


Aided by 2000 men sent by Confederate Ireland, Montrose wins surprise victories at Tippermuir and Aberdeen.

His troops plunder large parts of the Highlands, before routing and destroying the forces of key government supporter the Marquess of Argyll at Inverlochy.


Finally, Montrose defeats a larger government army under Sir John Urry at Auldearn.


Following Auldearn, the commander of the Irish contingent, Alasdair Mac Colla, departs for the western Highlands to attempt to raise more men. Montrose himself makes an effort to engage the remaining Covenanter army under Major-General Baillie. Baillie, a veteran soldier, has seen his forces reduce in size by the controlling body of the Scottish Parliament, which has the power to overrule his orders.They have ordered the detachment of around 1200 of Baillie's most experienced foot soldiers to create a second army, intended to be commanded by the Earl of Lindsay. Some of the resulting gaps are filled by inexperienced militia. Conscious of the weakened state of his army, Baillie spends the early summer months trying to evade contact with Montrose, and both forces manoeuvre through Moray and Aberdeenshire for several weeks in an attempt to secure an advantage.


Montrose finally catches up with Baillie near Keith, but he has taken up for battle in a strong defensive position.

Montrose refuses to attack and, after several days of waiting, moves his force on and across the River Don.

Baillie is now compelled to follow, otherwise Montrose will have a clear route of march into central Scotland.


Montrose occupies high ground near the village of Alford, near Balfluig Castle, where he receives word that the Covenanters are rapidly approaching the ford of the Don and so makes the decision to attack, as he knows that Lindsay is also  en route to reinforce Baillie with the second army.


The two armies are equal in size, though 1,000 of Baillie's troops are local militia hastily pressed into service just before the battle.


With Montrose's occupying the high ground overlooking the River Don, Baillie does not want to risk crossing the river, seeing that his troops would be vulnerable to attack before they could form up. Baillie is misled into believing he faces only a Royalist rearguard, as the majority of their troops are concealed on the hill's reverse slope.

 

Montrose waits until Baillie's cavalry are across the river, and the infantry in the process of crossing, before ordering his cavalry to attack. A fierce fight ensues around the ford between the two groups of cavalry.


Baillie and his infantry have now crossed the River Don only to witness their cavalry routed.  Montrose finally orders his hidden infantry to attack. Baillie's men initially hold firm and refuse to give quarter. However, when some of Montrose  cavalry return after their routing of Baillie's cavalry, some of Baillie's men begin to flee from the battlefield.

Pursuit of the defeated Covenanter infantry goes on until the early evening, including the burning of nearby Balfluig Castle.


1753 ~ Balfluig Castle is purchased by the Farquharson of Haughton.

It is later allowed to decay and is used as a farmhouse.