Royal Deeside : History of the Dinnet Area
A Brief History of Dinnet
Although man is known to have arrived in Dinnet in the Mesolithic, more intense colonisation began around 2000 BC, towards the end of the Stone Age, when an advanced race of people from Holland and the Rhineland came to the area. With them came new ideas, new 'technologies' and the advent of the Bronze Age
(Picture of St Wallochs stone)
Battle of Culblean
On St Andrews Day 1335, a battle took place in the Muir of Dinnet that is said to have been instrumental in the Second War of Succession and Independence.
On the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329, his 5-year-old son David II was crowned the new King of Scotland. Being a minor, the law dictated that a 'Guardian of the Kingdom' be appointed until the new king came of age. At this time, the office was held by Sir Andrew de Moray.
These were dangerous and uncertain times in Scotland, with divided loyalties amongst the gentry and an ever-present threat from the English. For these reasons, the young king was sent to France for his own safety and the Royal family moved to the stronghold of Kildrummy Castle.
Edward III of England, capitalising on the political unrest in Scotland and the vulnerability of the Scottish Royal family, and wanting to re-establish English overlordship, engaged the help of David de Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl - a devious and ambitious young man, who, himself, had rather spurious aspirations to the Scottish Throne. Along with an English-sponsored army, Atholl, or Earl Davy as he is more commonly known, marched north. Knowing that the timing could not be better, with the young king in France, the Royal family at Kildrummy Castle, and the Guardian in the Scottish Borders, Earl Davy moved quickly.
Earl Davy and his army, marched on and laid siege to Kildrummy Castle intending to overthrow the Royal family who were housed there. Included in the Royal party was Dame Christian Bruce, aunt to the young king and wife of Sir Andrew, the Guardian. She managed to send word to her husband, informing him of their unhappy situation and the implications to the whole of Scotland if Earl Davy were to succeed.
Sir Andrew reacted quickly, assembling an army of men from the Lothians including many from nobility, faithful to the Scottish throne. They marched north over the Grampians towards Dinnet, from where they intended to make all speed to Kildrummy to confront Earl Davy. In the meantime, Davy, having heard of the imminent arrival of Sir Andrew's troops from the south, lifted the siege at Kildrummy and hastened south. It is unsure as to whether he was fleeing or, more likely, hoping to surprise the Royalist troops with an early, unexpected attack. Regardless, on the 29th November 1335, the two armies found themselves camped 'within striking distance' at the foot of Culblean Hill.
Earl Davy had set up camp in the Burn O'Vat, and Sir Andrew's Headquarters was the 'Hall of Logy-Rothwayne'. The exact location of this camp has always been a matter for debate, although it is thought to have been the existing motte and bailey castle on the eastern shores of Loch Davan. Both armies are said to have been made up of about 3000 men, although with the arrival of John of the Craig, who had joined Sir Andrew's forces from Kildrummy, the Royalist forces had the slightly upper hand, in particular with a larger cavalry division.
Believed to be the 'first of it's kind in military history', Sir Andrew and John of the Craig, a brilliant military tactician, and benefiting from his extensive knowledge of the area and the terrain, devised a plan to launch a surprise attack on Earl Davy from behind. In the cover of darkness, and moving silently, Sir Andrew and John of the Craig left their camp at midnight and marched stealthily through the forest of Culblean, positioning themselves above and behind the rebel forces without being detected. The remaining troops, led by Sir William de Douglas, charged the rebels at dawn and clashed at Marchnear burn on the shores of Loch Davan (see map)
Earl Davys men, surprised and caught off guard with the early attack by Douglas, were already struggling and retreating when the pincer movement of Sir Andrew's troops, charging them from behind, sealed their fate. As they faced attack on both sides, the rebel army disbanded and fled, seeking refuge in the surrounding hills and forests. The battle was won for Sir Andrew in very short time; Earl Davy, with his back to a great stone, fought on until slain by Earl Gordon, his successor in the lordship of Strathbogie. Many other troublesome noblemen were killed, or surrendered - most notably Sir Robert Menzies, who, having fled to his stronghold on Castle Island, gave himself up the very next day.
Marchnear became known as the "bleddy burn", and "Earl Davy's stane", where he met his death, still lies on the slopes of Culblean. A monument was erected by the Deeside Field Club in 1956 to commemorate the Battle and can be found on the shores of Loch Kinord, overlooking the area where the two armies marched.
With the exception
of these landmarks, however, there is little now to suggest that such
a battle ever took place in these peaceful and beautiful surroundings.
Indeed, over time, the terrain itself has changed - the lochs a great
deal smaller than they were and the oakwoods and bog, now replaced by
pine, birch and fields full of sheep and horses. Imagine and remember,
however, as you explore the area, that you are possibly standing on the
very spot that history was made here on St Andrew's day 1335.
Although traces of it's turbulent past can still be viewed, today, we promise that your visit will be peaceful, your tranquillity only disturbed by the thousands of greylag geese who will noisily remind you of their presence on Loch Davan.
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