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The Drummer of Cortachy

Originally constructed for the Earls of Strathearn in the 15th century, this fortified mansion house was acquired by the Ogilvy family in 1473, one of the most influential families in Scotland due to their inheritance of the estates of the Airlie Family, the Earls of Findlater and Seafield, and the Barons of Banff. On 28th April 1491, the 9th Earl, James Ogilvy, was knighted, becoming Sir Ogilvy and he gained ownership of the lands of all the abbeys and baronies in the surrounding counties.


The family supported the Stuart monarchy, participating in several battles on their behalf. However, this allegiance eventually led to their downfall. Following the Jacobites' defeat at Culloden in 1746, the family was stripped of their lands and titles. David Ogilvy escaped to France, where he became a General in the French King's service. By 1896, the titles had largely been restored to the family.



During this period, in 1883, the house suffered extensive damage in a massive fire. It was subsequently restored and used as a hospital during World War II for Polish soldiers. It remains a private property to this day.


Paranormal Activity

The castle is said to be haunted by a giant drummer, although the story behind the haunting has diverse origins. It is recounted that one of the drummers at the castle fell out of favour with the family, though different reasons are provided. Some versions suggest he fell in love with the lady of the castle, while other variations involve him aiding an enemy family or failing to sound the alarm when he spotted an opposing army advancing towards the castle.


As punishment, the drummer was confined inside his own drum before the drum skin was restitched, effectively sealing him within. Initially, he pleaded for his life, but as it became apparent that his pleas were in vain, he vowed to return and haunt the castle.



Again, multiple versions exist regarding his fate. In certain renditions, the drum, along with the drummer inside, was hurled from the castle's highest point, while an alternate account asserts that the drum was set alight, resulting in the drummer being burned alive within it.


Staying true to his promise, the ghost of the drummer did indeed return. Standing around nine feet tall, he is sometimes witnessed accompanied by several ghostly pipers. His appearance is said to foreshadow the passing of a senior family member, and there are said to have been at least two documented instances where he was sighted just prior to a death.



The most recent sighting was in 1900 when he was observed and heard just before the Earl's death in the Boer War. With this marking the last time he was seen, it has been suggested that after centuries of haunting, the spirit of the drummer ultimately chose to find peace.



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