The Brodie Sword

WGrant Jacobean collection_12Jan2016_0590To celebrate the return of the Brodie Sword, from display at the National Museum of Scotland’s Jacobites exhibition, we thought we would re-share the story of this intriguing sword.

Sword and Symbols

With the recent exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, many iconic and beautiful pieces related to the Stuart court and its followers were brought together under one roof.

As part of the exhibition the book Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites was published by NMS; with a chapter dedicated to  ‘Weapons fit for a Prince’ it brings new insights into the Brodie sword within the context of two other pieces – The Kandler Sword and a Targe

The Brodie sword was reportedly commissioned by James Drummond the 3rd Duke of Perth to be presented as a gift to the Stuart heir to the throne.  A basket-hilted broad sword, the Brodie sword dates to the 18th Century, along with the sword the matching scabbard has survived and can be seen on display at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre.

The basket hilt is constructed from moulded silver; with the individual pieces of silver cast and then soldered together to create the hilt.

The design centres on the Greek mythological being of medusas’ head. Medusa was a symbol used by the Stuart royal family, as for every head of the snake cut of more would appear.

A pair of snakes coming out from the head twist forming the wrist guard, on the hilt there are many military trophies – from Hercules club, swords, arrows to guns – with a dolphin found at the pommel. It was suggested by Helen Wyld and George Dalgleish that the Dolphin might relate to the French word Dauphin meaning heir to the throne (Wyld & Dalgleish, 2017).

The basket hilt features many images of conflict it also contains images of peace. From the olive branch (meaning peace) on the sword  to yet more olive braches and the cornucopia (representing plenty) on the matching scabbard, the idea is that when the sword is sheathed at the end of the campaign and the ultimate goal of restoration for James VIII & III being achieved Great Britain will see peace and prosperity.

The Brodie Connection

This sword was said to have been removed from Charles Edward Stuart’s baggage train in the immediate aftermath of Culloden, the Dukes of Gordon (who fought on both sides of the ’45 conflict) had many objects related to the ’45 – everything from pieces of tartan to the beautiful sword.

It was in the care of the Dukes of Gordon until it came into the care of the Brodies through the marriage of Elizabeth Brodie (1794-1864) to George, fifth Duke of Gordon in 1813.

The castle ancestral home of the Brodie clan is a picturesque Brodie Castle in Moray. The castle has a history dating back over 400 years there is a magnificent collection of books, art and objects to explore.

We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a little more about this amazing piece. Hopefully you will have a chance to come and visit it ! As always please like, share, follow, tweet, comment and let us know if you were able to visit the Jacobites exhibition at NMS.

Discover more about the symbols of the ’45 at our Swords and Symbols event on the 26 November 2017


Forsyth, D. (2017). Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites. Edinburgh: National Museum Scotland .

Wyld, H., & Dalgleish, G. (2017). “A slim sword in his hand for batle” Weapons fit for a Prince. In D. Forsyth, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites (pp. 80-93). Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland .




A Selection of Staircases

This week we were chatting and I ended up mentioning one of the staircases at Brodie Castle which I use to takes tours in. Anyway, one thing lead to another and we thought it might just make a good blog to showcase some of the staircases at National Trust for Scotland properties.

So, first and foremost the Brodie Castle staircase it began with. Whilst at Brodie I used to be a tour guide and took people around the castle which was great fun. And, whilst I loved the rooms and the history, it was the sprial staircase that always made me smile and make me feel like an excited child for getting to climb up it.

Brodie Castle.


Brodie Castle, is not really a castle but is in fact a tower house which originally followed the classic Z-plan house design. This meant there were two tower in diagonal corners and the way up these towers was, as you may have guessed, a small spiral staircase. One staircase has since been removed but the other one still lives on and is accessible to guest as you make your way from the Red Drawing Room up to the Gallery. It’s the perfect small space that makes you feel that little bit devilish for going up it and adds that little thrill to the experience.

Meanwhile, Fyvie Castle has a slightly larger version. Considered one of the finest stone-wheel staircases in Scotland Fyvie’s staircase was built by the First Earl of Dunfermline and is an impressive ten feet wide. There other examples around including Glamis Castle but unlike theres Fyvies central post is not hollow but a solid cylinder. The staircases goes up three floors and is again fully accessible. If you’re good you’ll also notice pits in the stairs where it is said some rather drunken men rode their horses up the stairs.

Fyvie Castle’s spiral staircase


If you ever get a chance to see these staircases or indeed most old spiral stairs you may notice that most will tend to put your right hand side in the centre as you ascend and on the outside of the stairs as you descend. This was actually done for tactical reason in the times when enemies were a concern. Any enemies coming up the stairs would find their right had, traditionally their sword hand confined and therefore they would be unable to wield their weapon. Those coming down to protect the castle would however be free to move their right hand and attack any men approaching from below. Very convenient.

Stairs at Holmwood House


If these staircases are a little far north for you have no fear; just a few miles outside of Glasgow there is the little gem of Holmwood House. The National Trust for Scotland managed to save the property from development plans in 1994 and is a prime example of conservation in action with restoration of the villa ongoing so there is always something new to see. This unique house has been described as Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s finest domestic design and its staircase is gorgeous. Known as the star staircase the stairs are lined with beautiful mahogany carved bannisters before culminating under a magnificent cupola.

The cupola at Holmwood


And finally we couldn’t make this list without input from the stunning Culzean Castle. The castle is a great example of high-clas 18th Century living and the main staircase is no exception. A Robert Adam masterpiece, the Oval Staircase lies at the heart of Culzean Castle. It is famous for its soaring colonnades, grand oil paintings and dramatic carpet. And of course the glass cupola above which floods light into the space below. It’s so glamorous you can even get married on the staircase.

The Oval Staircase at Culzean Castle


So, that’s our top picks for staircases, hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and as always please tweet, like, comment, share and try not to get to worn out thinking of climbing all those stairs.

All the best, K & D