Alloa Tower, Alloa – Clan Erskine
Know as the largest surviving keep in Scotland, the land surrounding Alloa Tower was first given to Sir Robert Erskine in 1360.
It would quickly become the traditional seat of the Erskine family and a tower would eventually be built to signify the Erskine’s dominance in the area. The tower would then take on national significance after it was the location that Mary, Queen of Scots, would reconcile with her husband, Lord Darnley. Following this visit, the Queen would raise the Erskine family to the title of Earls of Mar and the first Earl, John Erskine, would be made a regent of the young James VI upon Mary’s death.
James would visit the castle only once, although, a popular myth suggests that Mary’s son passed away at birth and the infant son of the Earl of Mar would go on to become James VI.
Whatever the case, the family would continue to be involved in national affairs and the 6th Earl of Mar, ‘Bobbing John’, would lead the Jacobite forces during the 1715 rising as the family maintained a close connection to the Stewarts. Despite this supposed loyalty, however, John earned his nickname as he became adept at switching between the two sides during the rising and was viewed more as a politician than a general.
After the rising, the castle’s history would become somewhat less exciting, although a fire id cause damage to an extension of the castle in 1800 which led to the destruction of many important artefacts, including a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots. The tower would then start to decay before being refurbished in the mid-20th century and is now under the control of the National Trust for Scotland