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19 September 2014
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Ruthven Barracks
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Ruthven BarracksThe barracks at Ruthven mark the symbolic end of the Jacobite cause. After their defeat at the Battle of Culloden the Jacobite army regrouped at Ruthven to continue their rising against the Hanoverian government. It was here that the Jacobites finally learned that Bonnie Prince Charlie was in flight and had left them the order that every man must seek what safety he can.

Ruthven Barracks Factsheet

  • Set above a key junction in General Wade’s roads, the barracks were designed to provide accommodation for up to 120 infantry men and a detachment of cavalry, which would effectively suppress any Jacobite rising in the Highlands. By 1745, however, the government had slackened their military commitment in the north of Scotland - by the start of the 1745 rising only 13 Redcoat soldiers were guarding the barracks. They were subsequently attacked by over 200 Jacobites, but successfully drove off the attack with the loss of only one man, who had been shot in the head when he put it above the parapet. The barracks’ defences proved too strong to breach without the aid of a cannon.

  • Ruthven eventually fell to the Jacobites in 1746 when the Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army were retreating from Derby, on their way north to the disastrous Battle of Culloden. After their defeat at Culloden, the Jacobites put Ruthven to the torch and dispersed. It has remained a ruin ever since.
  • The history Ruthven goes back far beyond the Jacobite wars. In the 13th century the mound on which the barracks stand was the site for a powerful fortress built by the Comyn family. During the Wars of Independence the Comyns had lost in a dispute with Robert Bruce, who had murdered John ‘the Red’ Comyn at Dumfries and stormed through their northern fortresses in 1308.

  • In 1451 the castle was passed into the hands of the Earl of Huntly but was attacked and destroyed by John MacDonald, Earl of Ross, who, along with the Black Douglas clan, opposed the rule of King James II. However, the castle was rebuilt by 1459 when King James II himself was recorded as staying there.

  • In 1689 the castle was once again at the centre of conflict when it was attacked and set on fire during the first Jacobite rising against the rule of William of Orange. After the second serious rising in 1715, the castle was knocked down in 1719 and replaced over the next two years by the more modern military fortress that stands there in ruins today.

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