Kildrummy Castle (13)
This is a photograph of another of the information signs at Kildrummy Castle. The picture shows the great siege of 1306. The besieging army of Edward of Carnarvon can be seen arrayed around the outside of the dry moat (which was 85 feet wide). The tops of the walls and towers have, as was usual in those days, wooden hoardings built on them, from which the outer faces of the walls could be more easily defended by archers and from where projectiles and other forms of nastiness could be dropped on attackers below.
The events which brought the 1306 siege of Kildrummy to a close, are the subject of a well know Scottish tale - a copy of which, published by Fenton Wyness in 1970, it is worth setting out here in full. It is mostly true!
Osbarn the Smith
On the southern slopes of Ben Newe, at a little place called Greenstyle, there lived, nearly 650 years ago (over 700 now!) a family called Osbarn. There were three sons in the family and, as was the custom at that time, each was known by the occupation which he followed. Thus the eldest was known as Osbarn the Smith, for he plied his trade of blacksmith in the district.
The Osbarn family were rather unpopular in the neighbourhood, especially the Smith, but, being a good craftsman, he was always kept busy, for there was much work to be done in those far-off days.
Not many miles from his home stood the great castle of Kildrummy, then at the very height of its fame as one of Scotland’s most formidable strongholds. There was generally a large garrison at the castle, fully armed and horsed, so it was not surprising that Osbarn the Smith obtained the position of blacksmith to the castle. At Kildrummy there was plenty for him to do, for, besides shoeing horses, there were arms to repair, stout hinges and bolts to be made, massive iron yetts to be constructed and farm implements to be made. Many, indeed, envied Osbarn the Snith, for he was well paid for his services and lived in comfort and security within the great fortress.
But Osbarn was not happy. He had one unfortunate weakness – greed. To him, money was the only thing that mattered in the world, and he went to all extremes to increase his wealth. He therefore had no loyalties and no friends.
It was the summer of the year 1306. King Robert the Bruce had been defeated at Methven, near Perth, and had taken to the hills. Eventually he made for Aberdeen, where the queen, his daughter Marjorie and his brother Nigel met him. Others joined the royal party, but the approach of the English drove them to the west, and at Dalty, in Argyll, the king was obliged to withdraw before the superior forces of his bitter enemy, John of Lorn. As the royal ladies could no longer endure the hardships of the campaign, the king sent them to Kildrummy Castle under the escort of his brother Nigel and the Earl of Athol.
There was great rejoicing at Kildrummy when the royal party arrived. In the party were the queen, Marjorie, the king’s sister Marie and his brother Nigel, the Countess of Buchan and the Earl of Athol, together with many knights and ladies of rank. But their rejoicing was short lived. Word reached the castle that Edward of Carnarvon, Prince of Wales, son of the terrible Edward I, was making for the north.
In haste, the queen, with Princess Marjorie and the other ladies, fled north, eventually reaching the sanctuary of St Duthac’s Chapel at Tain, while Nigel Bruce remained at Kildrummy to meet the assault of the English. The castle was prepared for siege. Vast stores of food and munitions of war were collected and stored in the great hall, the wall-heads were manned, the massive studded doors of the gatehouse were barred and bolted, the iron yetts swung into place and padlocked and the drawbridge raised. All was in readiness for the attack.
(Cont. next photo)