CASTLE CAMPBELL in Dollar was once the ancient seat of the Earls of Argyll and over the years had many prestigious visitors.

During the mid-16th century one of these was Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary had been born on December 8, 1542, at Stirling Castle, daughter of King James V and Marie of Guise.

When she was just six days old, she became queen following the death of her father and was crowned at Stirling on September 9, 1543.

Until the age of 5 she was moved around for safety reasons before being shipped to France where she spent the next 13 years in the French court, waiting to be married to Francois, the Dauphin, later Francois II.

Married on April 28, 1558, the young couple became king and queen of France the following year. A year later Francois died and Charles, Francois’ brother became king, so Mary returned to Scotland.

Being Catholic, her Scottish subjects were suspicious of her. John Knox openly spoke out against her and many in her Privy Council were Protestant.

Notwithstanding, she tolerated this new form of religion but maintained her own faith.

One of these outspoken men was the 5th Earl of Argyll Archibald Campbell, owner of Castle Campbell, and he was responsible for the establishment of Protestantism as the main form of worship in Scotland.

Religion was put aside in 1563 when Mary was invited to the castle for a wedding as Lady Jean Stewart, wife of Campbell, was her half-sister, and one of her closest confidantes.

Campbell’s half-sister Margaret was engaged to James Stuart, 2nd Lord Doune, and the marriage took place with Mary as guest of honour, staying between the January 9-12, 1563.

She took an active part in the festivities including the banquets and masques.

However, it was not a happy trip for her. Shortly afterwards, she was consigned to her bed, suffering from pyrexia, vomiting and abdominal pains following her ‘evil journey at Castle Campbell’.

This is thought to have been hereditary as some of her descendants suffered from it as well.

This was not Mary’s only connection with the castle.

Following her betrothal to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, a plot was hatched by her half-brother James Stuart, 1st Earl of Moray, and Campbell to intercept Darnley at Kinross on his way from Perth and take him to the castle then hand him and his father, Matthew Stuart, the Earl of Lennox, over to the English.

A local laird discovered the plot and warned the Queen, so it was foiled.