Tour Ruthven Barracks Scotland
Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie sits above the flood plains of Badenoch upon a mound of glacial debris, later fashioned by human hands into a superb castle motte. A castle was built here in the thirteenth century by the Comyns to guard the nearby ford over the river Spey and watch the drove roads that made their way from the Great Glen across the Monadhliath Mountains towards Strathspey and the Cairngorms beyond. In the late fourteenth century Ruthven Castle was occupied by Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch who sacked Elgin and burned the Cathedral there in 1390. A legend tells how the Devil in the guise of stranger stopped at Ruthven in 1394 and engaged the Wolf at chess. The next morning the garrison lay dead and the castle was in flames.
The Earl of Huntly acquired Ruthven from James II in 1450, and a new improved castle soon stood upon the site. This was badly damaged by Viscount Dundee and his Jacobite followers however during the first rising in support of James VII & II in 1689. Under the Huntlys, Ruthven was usually in loyal hands and the Stewarts could assume that Crown officers would be welcome there. In 1594 however the Catholic Earl of Huntly was out of favour while the Protestant Campbell star was in the ascendant. Argyll invaded Badenoch to press home his advantage over the Huntlys but found Ruthven bristling with arms and manned by the local Clan Macpherson, all armed to the teeth. Argyll passed by and rode on to defeat at the Battle of Glenlivet. The flag of the Campbell Earl finally stood over Ruthven when
Argyll's men were part of a Covenanting force that evicted the Huntlys in 1647.
After 1715 the London government planned to destroy the clans by building a chain of fortifications linked by new roads across the Highlands. Ruthven was selected and the remains of the medieval castle were cleared away. Between 1721 and 1734 the old castle was replaced by the current structure, designed to house 120 redcoats and 28 dragoons. Only twelve Hanoverians were in residence however
when two hundred Jacobites came calling in August 1745. The redcoats under Sergeant Molloy miraculously held out but were forced to surrender in February 1746 when the Jacobites came back with artillery. The Highlanders duly razed this hated symbol of London oppression. That April, over three thousand defiant clansmen assembled at Ruthven the day after Culloden and vowed to carry on the fight against 'the German usurpers'. Only a message from Charles Edward Stewart, calling on each man to save himself as best he could, persuaded the clans to melt back into the hills.