Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hill of Fare and the Battle of Corrichie

Recently my wife and I went for a walk on the Hill of Fare. Despite having lived in Banchory for 4 years, and nearby for over 20 years, I'd never been on the Hill of Fare. 

At one point in the walk we came upon this ruined cottage:

I've been told it's known as the Shepherd's Cottage. 
An old Leopard Magazine (October 2008), had an article written by David Coleman, and in it, David suggests it was an under-keeper's home and that it was built between 1896 and 1910.

The cottage is close to the site of a battle that took place in October 1562, fought between Mary Queen of Scot's half-brother, Lord James Stewart's men and Sir John Gordon, the Earl of Huntly's men.

The build up to this battle is a long story but essentially, Catholic Mary was now Queen of a mainly Protestant Scotland and, although she continued to privately attend Catholic mass, she publicly reassured Protestant nobles and Scots that she was Queen of a Protestant Scotland. Also, Mary knew that she would never succeed to the English crown if she showed any inclinations and support for the Catholic faith.

The Earl of Huntly kept encouraging the Queen to declare her support for the Catholic church. Huntly was also jealous of the power and positions awarded to James Stewart. Mary eventually decided to take action against Sir John Gordon and so strengthen her claim to the English throne.

At the battle, not far from where this ruined cottage now sits, James Stewart's forces were completely victorious. Sir John Gordon, the Earl of Huntly dropped dead on the battlefield, and his two sons John and Adam were taken to Aberdeen. John, and other leaders were beheaded in the Castlegate. It is said that James Stewart forced Mary to watch the executions of these Catholic supporters.

What happened to the deceased Earl of Huntly is worth telling. In order for him to be put on trial for treason and his lands confiscated, his body was preserved and sent to Edinburgh where he was put on trial, in his coffin, in 1563. The lid was removed so he could 'hear' the charges against him!

The Earl of Huntly, 'The Cock o' the North', was eventually buried in Elgin Cathedral, three years later.

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