Cortachy Castle is large baronial manor built around a 15th century stronghold and is the hereditary seat of the Earls of Airlie. The lands were granted to Sir Walter Ogilvy by King James II in 1473 which is probably when the construction of this castle began, though there had been a an earlier castle of the Stewart Earls of Strathearn dating from 1330 on the site previously. During the 17th century the castle was severely damaged, first by Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll when he attacked it in 1641, then Cromwell burnt it down in 1651 because Ogilvy had given shelter to King Charles II there. Argyll had also destroyed the earls other castles of Airlie and Forther in 1640 which gave rise to the song “The Bonny House of Airlie”. During the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745 the Ogilvy’s supported the Stuart monarchy again and had the castle, estates and titles seized by the Crown. The castle was eventually returned to the family before 1815 and the Earldom by 1826. During the remainder of the 19th century the castle was heavily renovated.
Cortachy Castle and the Ogilvy family are said to be haunted by a drummer boy who was reputedly thrown to his death from the highest tower by one of the Earls. It is uncertain which of Earl of Airlie or indeed which century the legend pertains too, but the Earl in question killed the boy for either feeding information to his enemies or for having an affair with his wife. The last words the drummer boy said were a curse on the family. Since then the ghostly sounds of drumming have been an omen of impending death.
There is a story that the drummer was heard by a Miss Dalrymple in December 1844 whist staying at Cortachy Castle. She had the story explained to her by a nervous Earl and Lady Airlie, emphasizing that the last time it was heard, a Lady Airlie had died. Miss Dalrymple fled the castle after hearing it a second time and Lady Airlie commited suicide within six months. If this is right the experience would have happened during the time of David Ogilvy, 9th Earl of Airlie (1785-1849).
A second account has the drumming foretell the death of David Ogilvy, 9th Earl of Airlie. The drummer was supposed to have been heard on 19 August 1849 by an Englishman visiting the castle. The 9th Earl died the following day and was succeeded by his son David Graham Drummond Ogilvy.
David Graham Drummond Ogilvy, 10th Earl of Airlie is said to have had his own death announced by the drummer which was supposedly heard by both Lady Dalkeith and Lady Skelmersdale one hour before he passed away in 1881.