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The Douglases

The Douglases were among the most powerful families of Scotland in the later Middle Ages. Their rise dates from the friendship between King Robert the Bruce and Sir James Douglas. Sir James died in Spain in 1330 while taking Bruce’s heart to the Holy Land: this accounts for the heart on the coat of arms of the Douglas family. Sir
James was ancestor of the Black Douglases who were overthrown by James ii in 1455. The Earls of Angus, a junior branch of the family, were known as the Red Douglases. A number of castles and churches associated
with the Douglases are in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland. In addition to Aberdour and those illustrated on these pages, they are: Hermitage Castle in Border Region, Lincluden Church and Sweetheart Abbey in Dumfries and Galloway, Balvenie Castle in Grampian, Lochleven Castle in Tayside; the Earl’s Palaces in Birsay and Kirkwall, Orkney; and Scalloway Castle in Shetland.

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