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The History of Ruthven Barracks

As we travel up and down the A9 road which runs through the heart of Scotland, the main artery taking people north and south Ruthven Barracks can be seen easily from the road in either direction. It sits opposite the bustling town of Kingussie and adds yet another fascinating backdrop to the already splendid showcase of the Cairngorm mountains.

There was a castle on this site as early as 1229 which was owned by the Comyn family. The castle knew turbulent times from the beginning. The Comyn family were in dispute with Robert the Bruce and the castle was confiscated in the 1400s, passed into the Stewart family and the Earl of Buchan known as The Wolf of Badenoch. Then it was held by the Earl of Huntly, burned by John MacDonald, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. It was rebuilt in 1459.

It was still in use at the time of the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. By 1716 the Disarming Act was put in place by the British government. This disallowed muskets, broadswords or other weapons to be held by Highlanders, the Government also installed four new infantry barracks in the Highlands in an attempt to forestall any further Jacobite activity. Ruthven was an obvious choice due to it’s geographic siting in the main route through the Cairngorms, the others were Bernera near Glenelg, Inversnaid at Loch Lomond and Kiliwhimen (Fort Augustus).

The buildings we see today were constructed 1719-21and could house 60 soldiers with

officers’ accommodation, a bakehouse and a brewery. Originally intended for infantry, General Wade insisted on Dragoons as they were mounted infantry and so stables were added in 1734.

The Government troops surrendered control to the Jacobites in a siege after the Battle of Falkirk in 1746. The buildings were burned leaving only the skeleton we see nowadays. It was used as a rallying point after the defeat at Culloden but to no avail as they later received the order from Prince Charlie “Let every man seek his own safety in the best way he can.”

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