1 Kildrummy Castle
‘The noblest of northern castles’, Kildrummy was owned by the earls of Mar, who were linked to Bruce by marriage. After seizing the throne in 1306, Bruce sent his wife Elizabeth and daughter Marjorie to Kildrummy for their safety, but the castle was soon besieged by English forces. In 1335, Bruce’s sister Christina defended Kildrummy against a pro-English force under David, Earl of Atholl.
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2 Deer Abbey
These tranquil Cistercian monastery ruins were founded by William Comyn, Earl of Buchan, in the early 1200’s. In 1308, the abbey was probably sacked when Bruce drove William’s grandson John into exile and ordered Buchan be ravaged ‘fra end till end and sparyt nane’.
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3 Urquhart Castle
Magnificent Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness was captured by Bruce in 1307 as he unleashed his fury against the Comyns (Sir Alexander Comyn of Badenoch had been made constable at Urquhart by Edward I three years earlier). Around 1312, Bruce gave Urquhart to his favoured nephew Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, who later led a heroic raid on Edinburgh Castle.
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4 Balvenie Castle
A wide ditch encircles this striking, curtain-walled castle. On 22 May 1308, Bruce defeated John Comyn Earl of Buchan in battle at Inverurie, 30 miles south-east of Balvenie Castle, after which he brutally stamped out the inhabitants of Buchan, which he ‘burned from end to end and spared none’.
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