Mar's Wark and the Curse of Alloa Tower

Built on the orders of John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar, Mar’s Wark was meant to be the most majestic mansion in the land. He swore that while re reigned as Regent to young James the Sixth, son an heir to the deposed Mary, Queen of Scots, he’d build himself’ a palace to rival the beauty and majesty of the royal Castle of Stirling.

_tales - the-curse-of-alloa-tower_4.jpgBut, rascal that he was, he would not spend one penny of his own great fortune in the creation of his fine new home. Tradition has it that he sent soldiers and stonemasons to Cambuskenneth Abbey to strip the bricks from that holy place – stolen away to form the foundations of his fine new home. 

Abbot Patrick – said by his many to be a heretic, and, worse, a necromancer - a black magician in consort with dark and dismal powers – took exception to this. Vengeful and homeless, he appeared at the door of the uppity Earl on the very day he was to take up office as Regent, and placed a Curse – The Curse of Alloa Tower, as it became known – on Mar and all his kin:

‘Proud Chief of Mar, thou shalt be raised still higher, until thou sittest in the place of the King. Thou shalt rule and destroy, and thy Wark shall be after thy name, but thy Wark shall be the emblem of thy house, and shall teach mankind that he who cruelly and haughtily raiseth himself upon the ruins of the Holy cannot prosper. Thy Wark shall be cursed and shall never be finished. ..Thou, proud head and daggered hand, must dree thy weird, until horses be stabled in thy hall, and a weaver shall throw his shuttle in thy chamber of state…’

Local tradition has it that every part of the Curse came true. Mar’s fine new home was never finished. The Erskines did lose their lands and titles, after backing the wrong horse in the Jacobite rising of 1715 At the nearby Battle of Sheriffmuir the allegiances of another John Erskine – the 22nd Earl - seemed to slip and slide, like the bobbing of the shuttle on a weaver’s loom, forever tainting the family name.

Most sinister of all was the promise that one of Mar’s line would sit ‘in the place of the King’ – and rumours spread that the ambitious aristocrat had murdered young King James, replacing him with a bairn borne of his own noble line...driving his Countess to madness, in the process.

Slanderous tales? Foolish gossip...or dark magic? Who can say? It is rumoured that for centuries - in punishment for the avarice of their awful ancestor- the spirit of each Lord and Lady born to the House of Mar is bound within the cold bricks and mortar of this cursed place…

More Information

Mar's wark is maintaind by Historic Scotland http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk

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