A Brief History of Drumkilbo
Standing on a slight eminence - the Drum of Drumkilbo - Drumkilbo House is possessed of ancient
origins. When it was first an inhabited dwelling is not known, though from the formation of the
ground and from the type of building found in part of the foundations, it may well date from the
time of Nechten, when Pictish courts were held in Midgill (Meigle), one of the oldest villages in
Robert the Bruce
The present house incorporates the remains of a fortified tower dating from the 13th century.
Indeed, the first recorded owner of Drumkilbo was King Robert the Bruce, who gave it to Morice
de Tiry in about 1300. The Tyrees were the first confirmed inhabitants of Drumkilbo. On an old
tombstone in Kirkinch (Nevay) Churchyard. they are described as ' 'honest men and brave
fellows '. The chief of the clan joined Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Independence.
Sir William Wallace
Scotland's national hero, William Wallace, would have known Drumkilbo well. Long before the
events portrayed - not always with historical accuracy - in the film ' Braveheart ',
a favourite story took place near Drumkilbo. In 1292, the young Wallace was completing his
education in Dundee when he stabbed the son of the Constable of Dundee during and argument.
Wallace fled into the countryside north of Dundee with English soldiers in pursuit. Coming to
Longforgan, he sank down warily outside a little cottage. Mrs Smith, a good wife busy at her
spinning-wheel, quickly invited him in and dressed him in her own overall that she had been
wearing while spinning and set Wallace down to spin in her place. The English soldiers arrived
and searched the cottage, but so disguised was Wallace, and so covered in fluff from the
spinning, that they failed to recognise him and left to resume their search elsewhere.
Families Who Lived Here
The Tyrees lived at Drumkilbo for 300 years. Sir
Thomas Tyree was fond of horse racing. His horse, Kildaro, won the first silver cup raced for at
Perth on Palm Sunday 1631. King Charles 1 wrote to him asking for a ' loan ' of his
grey gelding. This was probably the famous Kildaro, and one wonders whether the horse was ever
returned to Drumkilbo.
Sir Thomas sold the estate to the Nairne family
in 1650. They were descended from Michel de Narai, an Italian from Narni who came to Scotland as
Italian ambassador during the reign of King Robert III.
Alexander Nairne enlarged the House in 1811, but his descendant, David Nairne, who died in
1854, was the last of the Nairnes of Drumkilbo. The property was sold to Lord Wharncliffe in about 1851.
In 1900, Drumkilbo was sold to Edward Cox of Cardean
for his younger son, John Arthur Cox. The Cox family were the leading proprietors of the jute
industry in Dundee. The property was then let for a time to Lord
Glamis, the heir to the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne, whose seat is
nearby Glamis Castle.
Sir Robert Lorimer
In 1920, John Cox commissioned the leading Scottish architect of the day, Sir Robert Lorimer, to
enlarge the House. This was done superbly, in a style that was in keeping with the original
structure. During the alterations, some accounts with a Dundee draper were found dating from
1745, as well as an old sword, a claymore made at Solingnen.