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The History of Cove Estate Scotland

Built in 1725, Cove house stands in the centre of Cove Estate Park.

The house stands on the foundation of Dunskellie Castle which in the 12th and early 13th Century was the home of William Irving of Dunskellie.

William was a great friend of Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale - later to become Robert the First of Scotland - the Famous King Robert The Bruce.

William supported Bruce and his claim to the Scottish throne throughout the Scottish Wars of Independence including the bleakest times when after suffering several defeats at the hands of the English, The Bruce fled the battlefield in 1306 and sought refuge with his friend WIlliam Irving.

As Dunskellie was situated, in these vulnerable times, so close to the border with England - if you had something of any value you needed somewhere safe and secret to keep it.

Dunskellie had such a place - a vault for keeping their valuables - a secret cave high in the cliff above the River Kirtle. It was here William sheltered Robert and hid him and kept him safe.

Whilst reflecting on events and collecting his thoughts in the cave, legend has it a spider caught Bruce's eye trying to make its web across an opening. The spider kept trying and failing to make the web. This reminded Bruce of his struggle with the English. As he continued to watch, the determined spider did not give up but kept trying until eventually the little beast completed it's web. This struck a chord with Bruce and renewed his belief that if he persevered victory was possible.

And the rest, as they say, is history! The revitalised Bruce and William travelled Scotland, gaining support and ultimately defeating the English army at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314. William holding the standard for his King on the day. A famous victory ensuring independence for Scotland and giving a beginning to the saying:

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"

Dunskellie 1680Dunskellie Castle passed via marriage to the Johnstone clan in the early 16th Century. Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie led the Johnstone clan in battle against the Maxwell's at Dryfesands, Lockerbie.

Although the Johnstones gained unexpected victory, Maxwell was warden of the march at this time (The King's Representative). By going up against Maxwell it was deemed he also went up against the King. The King outlawed Sir James and confiscated his land. Dunskellie Castle was destroyed and the name Dunskellie was not again used and the estate became known as "Cove".

Dunskellie 1680In 1680 a 2 storey lairds house was built then the Mansion House as we see it today was built around and encased the earlier Lairds House in 1844.

The house became derelict in 1972 when the roof timbers, suffering from years of dry rot, gave way causing instant ruin. Restoration began in 2005 with the removal of debris from inside and re-building works commencing January 2007 with completion in May 2008.

Cove House lived on again ...