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The Battle of Culbleen
From a volume of Aberdeen Notes & Queries


Proceeding still further northward, to a point a little beyond Loch-head, the traveller will there observe a small rivulet crossing the road on its way to join Loch Davan, tho twin lake to Loch Kinnord. From this point the old Roman road stretches away westward over Culbleen, and little more than a stone-throw along it from the puiblic road was fought the battle of Clulbleen on the early morning of St. Andrew's Day, 30th November, 1335. Sir Andrew Murray, then Regent of Scotland, on behalf of the youthful King, David II., was at the time employed on some business on the English border, and David de Strathbogie, Earl of Athole, taking advantage of his temporary absence, not only broke out in open rebellion, but actually laid seige to Kildrummy Castle, in which the Regent's wife, Christian Bruce, a sister of the late King Robert I., was then residing. On receiving this intelligence, Murray marched rapidly to the north at the head of some 800 horsemen, and occupied the "Ila of Logie-Ruthvan," now represented by the farmhouse of Upper Ruthven, and lying about a mile westward from Culbleen. At his approach, Atholc raised the seige of Kildrummy, and, marching his army of 3000 troops southward from Strathdon, encamped in the forest of Culbleen, near the east end of the old Roman road, from whence his camp fires could be seen at night by the royal troops lying at Logie-Ruthvan.

On the night previous to the battle a man named John Craig arrived at Logie-Ruthvan with 300 men for the Regent from Kildrummy Castle. Craig had previously been taken prisoner by Athole, and, being in honour bound to pay a heavy ransom on the morrow, was naturally anxious to get rid of this obligation. He accordingly offered to guide the royal troops in tho dark by a circuitous path through the forest, so as not only to reach the enemy, unperceived but actually get in behind them. His offer being accepted and skilfully carried out, the rebels were taken by surprise and completely routed, a number of their leaders being slain or taken prisoners, while Athole himself was killed, fighting bravely, beneath a huge oak tree. His friend and follower, Sir Robert Menzies, with a number of his men, escaped into the "pool" or castle on the island in Loch Kinnord, but had to surrender at discretion the following day, and make his peace, as best he could, with the Regent. Although the battle of Culbleen cannot bo classed as a great conflict, it nevertheless had far-reaching consequences, and can certainly be reckoned as one of tho decisive battles of Scotland, stamping out the rebellion, as it did, at a single blow, while establishing David Bruce on the throne of his father. King Robert.

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