Rent A Cottage In Scotland

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tour Earlshall Castle Scotland

Tour Earlshall Castle, Scotland. The origin of the name, Earlshall, is lost in the mists of antiquity. Tradition has it that it takes its name from the site of a hunting lodge, owned by the ancient Earls of Fife. The Barony of Leuchars including the land on which Earlshall now stands, is first recorded as being owned by the powerful Anglo-Norman family of de Quincey, Earls of Winchester, during the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214). At the end of the 14th century, the larger Barony of Leuchars was sub-divided into three separate baronies, one of which was known as Monypenny Leuchars, after Thomas Monypenny to whom the lands were granted. His grandson, Sir William, afterwards Lord Monypenny, was, in 1444, granted the lands of Congressault in France for service to Charles VII de Valois. A fellow Scot and companion in arms, Sir William Bruce, who was descended through a cadet branch of the family from King Robert the Bruce, also received the grant of the French lands of Escariot at around the same time. In addition, his loyal service to the French crown was recognized by his right to incorporate the royal fleur-de-lis of France in his coat of arms, a proud distinction.

Alexander, second son and heir of Lord Monypenny, decided that he wished to settle in France and Alexander Bruce, the son of William, effected an exchange with him of the lands of Escariot for the Barony of Monypenny-Leuchars and took up residence there in 1495. He is known to have been knighted before this year, and two years later James VI granted him a new charter of the lands 'Erlishall and the Prusk', the first recorded mention of the name. No structure exists from this period, although it is considered possible that the modest, small tower and low building across the courtyard from the castle may date from early 16th century when the Bruces were still relatively humble, bonnet lairds.

The change in the family fortune was to come about with the succession of Sir William Bruce and his subsequent role as a trusted counsellor to successive Scottish monarchs. Born in 1486, he fought at the Battle of Flodden (1513) where Scotland's nobility was decimated in the most disastrous defeat of a Scottish army by the 'auld enemy', the English. With the revenue from grants of additional land, Sir William was able to commence the building of Earlshall in 1546 at a time of momentous change for Scotland. In that year it is perhaps not too fanciful to imagine the masons working on the walls, pausing and looking across the estuary of the river Eden to where a single dark column of smoke arose outside the castle of St Andrews, marking the burning of the Protestant reformer and martyr George Wishart as a heretic, on the order of Cardinal Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews. Maybe these same masons crossed themselves and muttered a little prayer, little realizing that this event signalled the beginning of the Reformation in Scotland and nearly one-and-a-half centuries of religious bloodshed.

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