Ross & Cromarty War Memorials



Brahan Castle - ancient seat of the Earls of Seaforth


The Castle, for centuries the seat of the Earls of Seaforth, is some way to the west of Maryburgh. It is said that Maryburgh (Baile Mairi on the road sign) was set up as a township for Castle and Estate workers. The carriageway for the Castle still exists and began in the village, but is now no more than a pleasant, if somewhat overgrown walking route. About a mile long, it passes through mature woodland with both deciduous and coniferous trees on either side. Part of this woodland is known locally as The Broad Wood. Great for birds and even included an Eagle Owl on at least one occasion.

Brahan Castle was an impressive place as the picture shows, but was demolished in 1951. The ubiquitous George Washington Wilson portrays its grandeur in an impressive photograph of his - see it here. Why Brahan was neglected is a mystery because it had the distinction of being the birthplace of the Seaforth Highlanders in 1775.
See Seaforth Early History for the story.

Brahan Castle was the centre of an estate of a size that enabled the Earl to raise a Regiment of international renown, comprising some 1010 men, plus NCOs from the estate; this became the Seaforth Highlanders.

It must have been an impressive place, in its time, with a substantial kitchen garden and a large greenhouse which has an air of Joseph Paxton about it. There is a beautiful arboretum, or is it a pinetum in the style of David Douglas. Whichever, it has some delightful foot-paths, mature rhododendrons and azaleas, and a road leading down to the River Conon and a Fishing Station.

Hidden deep in the forest is a 'Dog's Cemetery' which may have something to do with the tale that the MacKenzies were the descendants of a much earlier 'tribe' known as The Dog Men. The story goes that they fought in partnership with Neapolitan Bull Mastiffs. See 'Even More Info' (below) for an illustration and description of that remarkable animal. In that same secluded place there is a magnificent winged statue of an angel, in white marble, commenorating Lady ??.

The Castle has another historical link which is of the greatest importance for the Highlands. Reputedly, General Wade visited Brahan to seek the support of the Earl in his (Wade's) intention to begin building roads, bridges, and forts in the Highland area. Apparently it worked as there is no record of real resistance to the project.

One important piece of history has been omitted, that of the Brahan Seer. It would take a lot of space to develop it here, even though he predicted the current state of things. Read a good account of all that here.

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