Kildrummy Castle (15)
The Maule Tower in the distance, with a section of the south-west curtain wall. The openings in the bottom of the wall are latrine chutes! These had to be carefully engineered. King Richard I's great and supposedly impregnable fortress of Château Gaillard in Normandy was captured in 1204 after the French climbed into the castle up a latrine chute! It doesn't bear too much thinking about! Anyway, back to Osbarn:
Osbarn the Smith (Continued from previous photo)
It was still dark when he returned to the castle, and he went straight to his forge. As he had no friends in the garrison he had not been missed, so he set about planning how best he could set fire to the castle. His forge was situated close to the great hall, a building with a roof of wood and thatched. It would be a simple matter for him to throw a piece of red-hot metal onto the roof, for the forge door faced the hall. The thatch would readily catch fire and spread to the timbers. This would be his plan when the signal came.
To the blacksmith the next few days seemed interminable in their length. The siege went on as before. Then suddenly the signal came. Osbarn was hammering out a coulter for a plough-share at the time, so he put it into the fire again until it was red-hot and then plucking it from the glowing embers, threw it high onto the roof of the hall. It glowed like a tiny red star among the thatch, which then burst into flames, quickly spreading to the timbers, so that ere long the whole building was a blazing mass. The heat was terrific, and many of the garrison had to seek protection on the wall-heads. The fire spread rapidly to other buildings within the courtyard and complete confusion reigned in the castle. At this point, the English pressed home an attack. The massive oaken doors caught fire, the yetts twisted in the heat, and it appeared that the castle must fall.
In the night, however, Nigel Bruce and his men built up the openings caused by the fire, and in the morning the siege was continued, but not without increased difficulty for the poor Scots. For all their food and ammunition (arrows presumably!) had been destroyed in the fire. It was only a matter of time before Kildrummy Castle would fall. Hunger, not the English army, forced the defenders to give in, and early in September the castle surrendered to Edward of Carnarvon.
Nigel Bruce was taken prisoner and hanged at Berwick and the garrison all put to the sword. But not Osbarn the Smith.
Osbarn presented himself at the English camp and claimed his reward for betraying the castle – as much gold as he could carry. This was the greatest moment of his miserable life. The English seized the unfortunate man, bound him hand and foot, melted a quantity of gold and poured the molten metal down his throat – as much as he could carry! A grim end to a life of greed and treachery!