Ruthven Barracks

Ruthven Barracks, by Kingussie
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Ruthven Barracks, by Kingussie

The ruined remains of the Ruthven Barracks lie at the western end of the Insh Marches, a half-mile (1 km) south southeast of Kingussie and to the south of the River Spey in the Badenoch and Strathspey district of Highland Council Area. The barracks are located on a natural drumlin, reused as a motte which was the site of the ancient Ruthven Castle. Built by the Government following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 as a military stronghold to keep the Highland population under control, the old castle was levelled and the new buildings were completed in 1724, with an additional guardhouse and stable-block added ten years later. The barracks housed a garrison of 120 troops in two barrack blocks and stabled 28 horses. The strategic importance of the site was assured when General Wade's military roads were built and three converged here. In February 1746, the garrison fell to Jacobite troops, after a failed attempt the previous year when a garrison of only thirteen men heroically resisted the Jacobite onslaught. On the 17th of April 1746, the day after the Battle of Culloden, 2000 Jacobite troops converged here intending to battle on. However after a message from Bonnie Prince Charlie was relayed to the troops to "save themselves as best they could", the Jacobites set fire to the barracks before dispersing through the Highlands. Ruthven was never re-occupied and subsequently fell into disrepair.

Ruthven Castle was said to have been a stronghold of the Comyn Lords of Badenoch, and then Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch (1343 - 1405), before it was acquired in 1451 by Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly (c.1410-70). King James II (1430-60) visited in 1459 and Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), also stayed here. The castle was captured by Bonnie Dundee's forces in 1689, who set it alight. It was re-occupied by a company of irregular troops until these forces were disbanded in 1717.

The Barracks are now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

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