Blairfindy Castle, Aberdeenshire
Blairfindy Castle is a fabulous ruined 16th century L-plan tower house located in the grounds of the Glenlivet whisky distillery, a short distance upstream from the River Avon.
~ History ~
1470 ~ The Grants are recorded as being tenants at Blairfindy to the Earls of Huntly.
Alexander Gordon, 3rd son of the Earl, marries Jean Grant and in doing so the modest tower is brought into the direct ownership of the Gordon's of Huntly.
1564 ~ John Gordon second Marquess of Huntly begins the rebuilding and remodelling of the fortified tower house.
1586 ~ The castle is finally completed. A panel is erected above the doorway with the initials of John Gordon of Cluny and his wife Margaret Gordon.
1594 ~ The Battle of Glenlivet is fought nearby the ruined castle of Blairfindy. The Catholic George Gordon Earl of Huntly, and the Hay Earl of Errol, defeat the Protestant army led by the Earl of Argyll, with the slaughter of over 700 of Argyll's men, including MacLean of Duart Castle.
1600 ~ Thomas Gordon chooses to build for himself a new castle at Cluny, a decision which leaves him bankrupt, forcing him to relinquish Blairfindy to the Earl of Huntly.
1606 ~ The chief of the Grants exchange the lands of Abernethy for Blairfindy with the Earl of Huntly and with it the tower house hunting lodge.
1647 ~ Lord Huntly is imprisoned overnight in the castle following his capture at Delnabo, before being transferred to Edinburgh for his eventual execution.
1649 ~ The Grants of Blairfindy are tenants to the Earl of Huntly.
1746 ~ Following the Battle of Culloden and defeat for the Jacobite cause, the Jacobite Grants of Blairfindy see their castle burned by Cumberland's Government troops. It is never again occupied and left to fall into ruin.
~ The Battle of Glenlivet ~
The battle is as a result of King James VI of Scotland deciding that laws against Catholics would be enforced. The northern Catholic Earls of Huntly, Errol and Angus, having previously made overtures to King Philip II of Spain to return Scotland to Catholism, rise up in revolt. In response to this treasonable act, King James decides to lead an army north, sending an advanced force under the teenage Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll, to oppose the rebel army led by George Gordon, 6th Earl of Huntly.
The Earl of Argyll's forces 12,000 strong lay siege to Ruthven Castle. Argyll's army include the experienced Earl of Atholl Lachlan Mor Maclean, chief of Clan Maclean, the chief of Clan Mackintosh, the Laird of Grant, the Clan Gregor, MacNeil of Barra, together with the entire Clan Campbell. Ruthven castle is well defended by Clan Macpherson, vassals of the Earl of Huntly who are able to withstand the siege. Following this, Argyll sends orders for Lord Forbes, Clan Fraser of Lovat, Clan Dunbar, Clan Mackenzie ,Clan Irvine, Clan Ogilvy and the Clan Leslie to join him.
The opposing Catholic Earls however know that Argyll is a youth with no military experience, whose army is made up of raw and undisciplined militia, which also include a great number of Catholic's like themselves.
Argyll passes Glenlivet and Blairfindy castle and is surprised to find the much smaller Catholic force opposing him.
Despite his experienced chiefs advising him to wait for the reinforcements he has requested to catch up with him, seeing his vastly superior numbers of foot soldiers against the much smaller cavalry force of Huntly and Errol, he decides to attack.
Argyll has the advantage of being on a hill and Huntly's forces further hampered by the moss on the ground and the turf pits that have been dug. However, Huntly still advances up the hill. He has also made arrangements with Campbell of Lochnell who had agreed to join Huntly's side as soon as the battle commences, before the charge of Huntly's cavalry.
Huntly had previously discovered that Campbell of Lochnell was at enmity with Argyll who had murdered his brother. However, Campbell of Lochnell is shot dead by the first cannon fire and his men then flee from the field.
Argyll's Highlanders have never seen field pieces before and are thrown into disorder. Huntly decideds to follow this up by charging at them with his cavalry. Errol is directed to attack the right wing of Argyll's army that is commanded by Maclean. However, this wing is at the top of a steep hill and Errol is hampered by the thick vollies of shot from above, and so has to make a detour leaving the enemy on his left. Gordon of Auchindoun charges up this steep hill with a small party to attack Maclean, but he is killed in the process. Maclean receives repeated assaults but maneuveres his men so well that he succeedes in cutting off Errol from Huntly. However, Huntly comes to Errol's assistance and relieves him.
The battle continued for two hours. Huntly's horse is shot from underneath him but he is immediately provided with another one. The main body of Argyll's army begin to give way and retreat. However, Maclean continues in the field until finding the battle a hopeless cause and is also forced to retreat. The success of Huntly is mainly due to Campbell of Lochnell's treachery of Argyll and also that of Grant of Gartinbeg, being a vassal of Huntly, who retreat as soon as the action begins. This leaves the centre and left wing of Argyll's army completely broken.
Argyll's army suffer 700 men killed, including MacNeil of Barra, Campbell of Lochnell, and Campbell of Auchinbreck.
Huntly's losses are relatively small: fourteen gentlemen are slain including Patrick Gordon of Auchindoun and the Gordon Laird of Gight. The Earl of Errol and a number of others were wounded.
The day following the battle, Huntly and Errol realise that they have no outside support to withstand the King and eventually decide to flee Scotland. Huntly spends sixteen months travelling through Germany and Flanders after which he is recalled to Scotland where along with Errol and Angus they are restored to their former honours by the Parliament held at Edinburgh.
Two years later the King elevates the Earl of Huntly to be Marquess of Huntly. With these acts the Catholic cause is removed.