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Publication Account

Date 1995

Event ID 1016721

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Ruthven is the best preserved of the four infantry barracks that were built by the Hanoverian government after the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. It can now be seen to good effect to the east of the new A9 road as it passes Kingussie. The barracks stands on a prominent hill, perhaps in part artificialIy scarped, rising from the flat floor of the Spey valley, which had earlier been the site of a 13th century stronghold of the Comyns and a stone castle of the Earls of Huntly. In 1745 Sergeant Molloy and twelve men heroically resisted a besieging army of some 200 Jacobites, only to be forced to surrender when the rebels returned with artillery the following year. Later some of the defeated Jacobites rallied here after Culloden. Thereafter the barracks fell into ruin.

The original Board of Ordnance plans survive, and though some modifications were made during construction they help to interpret the existing structure. The tall buildings are the barrack blocks, each having a central timber stair leading to six rooms, one either side of the stair on each floor. The timber stairs and floors are long gone. Each room had a fireplace intended for cooking as well as warmth (there was no mess hall), and would have contained 'five beds for ten men in as little space as can well be allowed', though it is doubtful if Ruthven ever housed its full complement of 120 men. The lofts and basements were for stores and powder magazines. The inner walls had windows, two to a room, while the outer walls had musketloops on each floor. The enclosure walls round the parade ground had a wall-walk above a series of open-ended vaults, but each of these was provided only with one musket-loop. There was no provision for mortars or cannon. One angle tower seems to have been a guardhouse, with rooms above, and the other a bake- and brew-house, where part of the oven remains. Latrines were built in the two remaining corners of the fort.

In 1734, at the recommendation of General Wade, a guardhouse and stable for thirty dragoons was built, of which the attic floor was probably used as a hayloft. A postern gate was inserted in the west wall of the barracks to give access to the stable block. The dragoons were 'to serve as a convoy for money or provisions for the use of the Forces as well as to retain that part of the country in obedience'.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

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