Airlie’s namesake, a medieval castle in Scotland, has a fascinating history


Many of our guests are surprised to learn our historic hotel gets its name from Airlie Castle in Scotland, which dates back to 1432. Harry Connelly Groome, who founded Airlie in 1899, visited the castle during a golf trip to nearby St. Andrews and noted strong similarities in the rolling terrain to his own property in Warrenton, Virginia.

As you might imagine, the castle has a fascinating history.

In 1639, it became the official seat of the Earl of Airlie, but was seized the following year during the Bishops’ Wars by the Earl of Montrose and soon thereafter looted and torched by Lord Argyle. A traditional Scottish folk song recalls the incident and hints at the rivalry between Argyle and Airlie.

After the wars, the castle lay neglected for over a century until the exiled Earl of Airlie was allowed to return in the mid 1700s. The castle was rebuilt with the addition of a Georgian-style country house.

According to folklore, the ghost of a drummer haunts Airlie Castle and can be heard beating his drum to signal the imminent death of an Earl of Airlie. The drummer, who had been posted as a sentry during the Bishops’ Wars, was accused of betrayal when he failed to give warning of the attack on the castle and subsequently locked in the castle tower where he was left to burn. There are, of course, a few other local versions of the drummer’s demise.

Fortunately, our guests can rest assured there will be no encounters with ghosts here at Airlie.


Photo Credits

Airlie Castle (top) and formal garden (bottom): "The Bonnie House of Airlie," published by the 12th Earl of Airlie, 1963


Steve Wheat

Written by Steve Wheat

Steve Wheat is the Marketing Manager at Airlie. He has 25 years of experience as a creative professional with a diverse background, including graphic design, advertising, web development, photography, and publishing. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his equally creative wife, Carina, and two sons.


All Categories

Recent Posts

Stay Connected