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Culcreuch Castle Hotel

1390 - 1624

For seven centuries, the Lairds of Culcreuch have not just witnessed history; they have often had a hand in making it.

The oldest parts of the Castle date back to before 1296, a time when Scotland was newly independent after the efforts of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Nevertheless, the clan families remained more or less permanently at one another's throats over the centuries.

Culcreuch was the seat of one of the principal branches of the Clan Galbraith for over 300 years.

The first recorded Laird was Maurice Galbraith, who with his father, Sir Arthur Galbraith of Gartconnel, is credited with the building of the Castle during the period 1296 to 1320. Maurice’s grandson, James became 9th Chief of the Clan in 1390, following the extinction of the line from Maurice’s elder brother and thereon the seat of the Chiefship remained at Culcreuch until 1630. The tower of the present house is thought to have been built at the end of the 15th Century, and therefore by a Galbraith. There is no sign of ruins in the neighbourhood and therefore this tower is probably on the site of its 1320 predecessor.

The Galbraiths of Culcreuch were a warlike Clan and it is certain that the Castle witnessed much warmongering over time with its bottle dungeon in regular use. They did not live a quiet life! At the end of the 15th Century, Thomas was hanged for taking part in a rising under the Earl of Lennox. His estates were forfeited but later restored to his successor, James. In the 1550's the then Laird, James, turned out the teaching friars who had a settlement in the parish, and quietly added their lands to his. In 1560 he was making life very difficult for the "Reader" in the Fintry kirk and the Lords Council had to bring him heel.

The last two Lairds were John and Robert. John was "put to the horn" (outlawed) and Robert was accused of "hamesucken" (attacking a man on his home territory), was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and was frequently "put to the horn". He got into debt and "wadset to", and finally gave his estate to his brother-in-law, Seton of Gargunnock in 1624. This Seton became a judge, taking the title of Lord Kilcreuch (1624), and sold the estate in 1632 to Robert Napier, 2nd son of John Napier of Merchiston (inventor of logarithms).

Culcreuch was used to garrison the Commonwealth forces during the Civil War in 1654.The Galbraiths were twice involved in uprisings against the Scottish Crown. The first in 1489 ended at the Battle of Talla Moss and led to the death of Thomas Galbraith, who had supported the Earl of Lennox against the Royal Party, guardians of the young King James IV. Another Galbraith of Culcreuch was in an uprising in 1526 and this resulted in the Battle of Linlithgow against the Douglas's in whose control the minor, James V, was held. This battle again ended in defeat for the rebels.

When not feuding on a national scale the Galbraiths used Culcreuch as a secure base from which to carry out a vendetta against their enemies. They were regularly bound over to keep the peace on the pain of heavy fines. Eventually it was financial hardship which forced the last Galbraith incumbent and possibly the wildest - Robert, to pass over the estate in settlement of his debts to brother-in-law Alexander Seton of Gargunnock, a Lord of the Session, in 1624.

Penniless, Robert Galbraith, 11th Laird of Culcreuch and 17th Chief of Clan Galbraith, fled to Ireland and disappeared into Irish history. Members of the Galbraith Clan from all over the world have since this time been searching, unsuccessfully to date, to discover who from amongst their number can prove themselves to be descended directly from Robert and thus claim to be the current Chief of the Clan.