A martial marsh
04 July, 2013
Last week took me to some of our properties up north, including Ruthven Barracks. Ruthven is near Kingussie, and sits on a mound rising above the marshy ground known as Insh Marshes. The marshes have been designated as a National Nature Reserve.
Ruthven was built as an infantry barracks in 1719, following the Jacobite Rising of 1715. Its solders were accommodated in two ranges of quarter. There is also a stable block.
When the Jacobites rose again in 1745–6, the building was captured and burnt by Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army. Their first siege was unsuccessful, though. It was repulsed by just 12 government soldiers (known as redcoats) under the command of Sergeant Terrence Molloy, with the loss of only one man. According to Molloy, the unfortunate soldier ‘had raised his head above parapet, contrary to orders’.
The Jacobites returned later with artillery and successfully captured the barracks.
Outside the ruined barracks, you can find the remains of Ruthven Castle. This is reputed to be the place where Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan died in June 1405. Buchan was one of the most infamous historical characters of Strathspey, better known as the Wolf of Badenoch.
The son of King Robert II, he was notoriously violent, murdering those who displeased him and and burning their homes. Above all, he is remembered for destroying the royal burgh of Elgin and razing its great cathedral in 1390.
Ruthven Barracks commands superb views and is also a good place to see the wildlife of the Insh Marshes. After carrying out a survey of Ruthven, I dropped into the Insh Marsh for lunch and went for a walk around some of the paths.
Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. At this time of the year there are many nesting lapwings, redshanks and curlews. The redshank is known as ‘the sentinel of the marshes’ because of their raucous call. But look out for other wildlife, such as the black darter dragonfly, the smallest in Britain.