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Updated 06/28/2019


A irlie Castle
George Bell

Airlie Castle is a mansion house in the parish of Airlie, Angus, near the junction of the Isla and Melgund rivers, west of Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland.

King James I of Scotland granted lands to Walter Ogilvy of Lintrathen, Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, in 1432. Walter Ogilvy then built the castle at the confluence of the River Isla and the Melgam Water. It sits on a raised position with a steep 400ft drop to the rivers below. A moat on the eastern approach further protected the castle. It became a stronghold and chief residence of the Ogilvies.

The castle consisted of a rectangular courtyard with walls three meters thick. The east wall of the original courtyard still stands. An entrance gateway that now has a square tower on it sits at the north end of this wall, though the tower was built later than the original courtyard.

In 1639 at York Charles I created James Ogilvy the 1st Earl of Airlie. James refused to sign the National Covenant. Furthermore, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms the Ogilvies supported King Charles I and the Royalist cause. Parliamentarian troops under the command of Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl of Argyll destroyed the castle in 1640; the ballad "The Bonnie Hoose o' Airlie" describes the incident. Campbell also burnt the Ogilvies's castles at Craig and Forter.

The Ogilvies did not rebuild Airlie Castle. James Ogilvy (d. 1731), grandson of the first Earl, took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715 and was attainted; consequently on his father's death in 1717 he was not allowed to succeed to the earldom, although he was pardoned in 1725. George II confiscated the castle.

In 1778 David Ogilvy too received a pardon and he returned to Scotland from exile in Versailles. He had a new mansion built between 1792 and 1793 that incorporated the parts of the Castle that were still standing.

The tune was written by George Bell, leader of George Bellís Scottish Dance Band which was formed in the late 1960s.