B970 off A9
Ruthven barracks sits upon the site of an earlier medieval castle on top of a natural mound.
The castle was owned by the Comyn family, rivals to Robert the Bruce. Their bitter dispute culminated in the murder of John Comyn and Bruce's grab for the throne of Scotland. The Comyn stronghold is subsequently confiscated and passes into the hands of the Stewart's, in particular Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan and so-called 'wolf of Badenoch'.
Later, whilst under the ownership of Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly, it was attacked by the Black Douglas's led by John MacDonald, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. It was later rebuilt and still in use when the first Jacobite rebellion ignites.
~ History ~
1688 ~ The Protestant William of Orange is invited to invade England with an army to overthrow the unpopular Catholic King James VII of Scotland and II of England. William and his wife, Mary Stuart, daughter of James VII, are crowned joint monarchs subject to constitutional limitations of Parliament. Protestant England embrace the new rulers but reaction in Scotland to the new regime is mixed. Although the Scottish Government support William and Mary, amongst both Protestant and Catholic circles there is reluctance to displace the Stuart dynasty which has ruled Scotland for over 300 years.
1689 ~ A rebellion led by John Graham, Viscount Dundee, is ignited to restore Catholic King James to the throne, whose supporters are known as Jacobite's. With the support of Irish troops and Highland Clans he has military success at the Battle of Killiecrankie. However, whilst a number of further battles are fought - including a siege and burning of the castle at Ruthven.
The uprising is ultimately defused by the offer of a general amnesty to any clans who had participated in the uprising, providing they take an oath of allegiance to William and Mary.
1701 ~ The Act of Settlement, barring Catholics from the throne, is passed by Parliament, to prevent the return of King James or his heirs to the throne.
1707 ~ The Act of Union merges the Governments of England and Scotland, also being especially unpopular in the Scottish Highlands.
1714 ~ With the succession of the first of the Hanoverian monarchs in Kings George I, discontent turns into open rebellion the following year.
1715 ~ The second Jacobite rebellion is eventually put down following spectacular military successes throughout the Highlands. However, without support from the lowlands and northern England, and the reliance upon Irish volunteers and fickle feuding Highland clans, the rebellion ultimately fails.
To prevent re-occurrence, as well as to enforce the new Disarming Act the following year, which bans broadswords, muskets and other weapons of war being held by the Highland clans, the Government commission four infantry barracks to be built.
The intent is for these facilities to support the main Governmental fortresses at Fort William in the West and Fort George at nearby Inverness, plus those at Edinburgh and Stirling castles. The barracks are located at Bernera near Glenelg in Argyll, Inversnaid in the proximity to Loch Lomond, Kiliwhimen (now Fort Augustus) and Ruthven. The latter being chosen due to its proximity to an important junction between routes through the Cairngorms.
1721 ~ The building of Ruthven Barracks on top of the mound of the original medieval fortification is completed. The structure consists of two three-storey barracks each capable of accommodating 60 infantry soldiers. A protecting curtain wall encloses the barracks with musket-loops for defence.
1734 ~ Following the appointment of General George Wade as Commander-in-Chief of North Britain, he favours the use of mounted infantry in outposts such as Ruthven, so as they can be used as a rapid response force along the newly built military roads. Accordingly, a stable block is added to the barracks.
1745 ~ Bonnie Prince Charlie, King James VII charismatic son and heir, lands in the Highlands with support of the Catholic Highland clans, raising his standard and so begins a third Jacobite rebellion. The bulk of the garrison of Ruthven has already been withdrawn by this point, having marched to Inverness to join the army of General Cope that had been tasked with neutralising the Jacobite threat. With the bulk of Governmental forces gone, the Jacobite's attempt to gain control of Ruthven but, without artillery, are unable to dislodge the small garrison led by a Sergeant Molloy and 14 men.
1746 ~ The Jacobite's defeat the Government forces at the Battle of Falkirk, during which they capture the artillery required to threaten Ruthven barracks. These are brought to bear at Ruthven prompting the garrison to surrender after a short siege.
Now the barracks are in hands the Jacobite's, but fearing they will be unable to hold it, they instead burn it.
Following the Jacobite's defeat at the Battle of Culloden, remnants of the shattered Jacobite forces flee to Ruvthen barracks which is used as a rallying point. Lord George Murray Marshalls the surviving forces ready for the next stage of the campaign but it is to no avail. Bonnie Prince Charlie together with a few trusted men had escaped to the Highlands and Islands and was being hunted. A broken man, with no hope of recovering the disaster of Culloden, sends orders to Murray "Let every man seek his own safety in the best way he can". So ended the last Jacobite rebellion and Ruthven barracks is never rebuilt.