Airlie Estates, including Cortachy Castle and Airlie Castle have been held by the Ogilvy family for at least 700 years. One the most distinguished families in Scotland they take their name from Gillibride, second son of Ghillechriost, Earl of Angus in the 12th Century. Sir James Ogilvy became Lord Ogilvy of Airlie in 1491 and James, 8th Lord Ogilvy was created Earl of Airlie in 1639, and became the recognised chief of all the Ogilvies.

The Bonnie House of Airlie was published by the 12th Earl of Airlie in 1963. The popular and spirited ballad derived from James, Earl of Airlie having left Scotland to avoid being compelled to subscribe the National Covenant, the Estates of Parliament, in June 1640 sent the Earls of Montrose and Kinghorn to take possession of his houses of Airlie and Fortar. On arriving at Airlie Castle they summoned Lord Ogilvy to surrender his father's house, he would not. The Earls left but in July a new commission was given to the Earl of Argyle who assembled 5,000 men and proceeded to demolish Airlie Castle.

Argyle he has ta'en five hunder o'his Men,
Five hunder men and mairly,
And he's awa by yon green shaw
Come to plunder the Bonnie Hoose O' Airlie.

Cloud's o'smoke and flames sae high
Sune left the wa's but barely,
And she laid doon on that hill to dee,
When she saw the burnin' o'Airlie.

Airlie Castle was later rebuilt.

For a more in-depth history the following links are useful.


Airlie Monument

Download the podcast which featured recently on BBC Out of Doors on Radio Scotland (scroll to 50 minutes) regarding the proposed repair programme for the Airlie Monument.

The following is a transcript of the Inscription on the Airlie Monument.

In the year 1901, under the sense of a great loss and feeling of sorrow, his own people, his countrymen, and his friends united in raising this monument to perpetuate the revered memory of David William Stanley Ogilvy, ninth Earl of Airlie, a representative peer of Scotland, Lord Lieutenant-Colonel commanding 12th (The Prince of Wales Royal) Lancers, born 20th January 1856, who fell in action while gallantly leading his regiment at Diamond Hill, near Pretoria, 11th June 1900.

He was a brave and distinguished soldier who served his country in the Afghan War: 1878-1879, in Suakim 1884; in the Soudan Expedition 1884-1885 and in the Boer War 1899-1900.

He was thrice wounded, and repeatedly mentioned in dispatches. Full of Christian and knightly virtues, he met his death as had ever been his desire, on the field of battle.

Through his short life, he worthily bore the responsibilities, which God had intrusted in him. Beloved by his own people he lives in the hearts of all, as a good servant of the Master, a truly noble men, a generous and true friend, a beneficent landlord.

Sons of Scotland who mourn his loss, may this memorial remind you of him of whom his comrades said in his dispatch, "I deplore the death of that gallant soldier, the Earl of Airlie, who true to the loyal and patriotic traditions of his ancient house, at the call of duty yielded his life of devotion to God, his Queen, and his country on the battlefield."

In far off South Africa, where he fell, al that is mortal of him, now lies in peace, to rise again at the call of his great Captain, Christ.

'Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ' (2 Timothy, ii 3)

The Rev. John Strachan who lived at the Cortachy Manse in 1900 conducted the service at Airlie Castle. The full text of the service is held in Forfar Library, local history section.

At page 11 he says, "Few men have enjoyed greater respect and esteem of his fellowmen than did Lord Airlie."

The 9th Earl

Below is the text of an ACROSTIC for David, Ninth Earl of Airlie, written by DD Beaton, Provincial Bard of Forfarshire held in Forfar Library.

Dear, noble peerless AIRLIE'S dead. Yet still he lives
A soldier and a man, within the all of British hearts
Valiant in fight, fearless in danger, a hero
Innate, such as the world admires and heaven approves
Dead! Nay, he's but at rest! Such hero's never die.

3 Verses omitted

Angus worthy sons and daughters sadly mourn today
In deep and heavy sympathy with those hearts
Robbed of their best beloved, so deeply, keenly pierced
Lord may dear Scotia raise such worthy gallant sons
Incitingly this pile on Tulloch Hill proclaims
"Excelsior! Ye Angus youths, Excelsior!"

Cortachy Church Gate

The ornate black gate which now sits in the boundary wall of Cortachy Church and can be seen at the head of the path leading to the laburnum arch was placed there in 1969 by the present Lord Airlie and certainly bears closer inspection as to the symbols incorporated into it.

Lord Airlie upon the death of his father had planted three lime trees one each for Lord Airlie, Lady Airlie and his mother the Dowager Countess of Airlie.

The present Lady Airlie wished to alter the yew hedge within the walled garden at Cortachy and therefore to fill in the gap where the gate stood.

So the decision was taken to move the gate, which had probably stood there since it's creation in the 1870's.

However, the story only comes into it's own when the Minister at the time remarked to Lord Airlie had he studied the symbols on the gate which clearly represented the Devil and was this entirely appropriate for it's new location at the church.

Lord Airlie replied to the Minister that he had not studied the gate in question but perhaps it would act to "Keep the Devil out" and the gate remains to this day.