Scottish Castles Photo Library
- Huntingtower Castle, Perthshire

Originally called Ruthven Castle, the Ruthven family took their name from the barony of Ruthven, near Perth. Thor and his son Swein came to the area towards the end of the 12th century. Walter Ruthven assisted William Wallace at the siege of Perth and in the re-capture of Jedburgh Castle from the English.

The original tower house dates from the 15th century and a second tower was built later, three metres west of it. It is possible that one tower housed the first Lord Ruthven and the other was allocated to his son. It was not until the late 17th century that the two buildings were connected with the addition of more apartments between the two.

The third Lord Ruthven was a leading supporter of the Protestant Reformation and was one of the ringleaders in the murder at the Palace of Holyroodhouse of David Riccio, the Queen's favourite.

In 1582, a group of nobles, including Lord Ruthven, kidnapped the young King James VI and held him captive for ten months in Ruthven castle. The King and the Ruthven family were later involved in 1600 in the "Gowrie Conspiracy" in which the 3rd Earl of Gowrie seems to have plotted again against King James. Gowrie was killed and later in the year the Gowrie name was "proscribed" or banned by the Scottish Parliament. The castle was taken over by the crown and renamed "Huntingtower".

There is a romantic story of the "Maiden's Leap" across the space between the battlements of its two towers. The Earl of Gowrie's daughter is said to have been visiting her lover in his bedroom in one tower and, fearing that she was about to be discovered by her mother, leapt across to the second tower and her own chamber. She eloped the next night!

See also Places to Visit - Huntingtower Castle for more information and illustrations.

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