Perthshire: About 7 miles north-west of Pitlochry, 1 mile north-west of Blair Atholl, on minor roads north of B8079 from A9, at Blair Castle.
Private NN 867662 OS: 43 PH18 5TL
OPEN: Open Apr-Oct, daily 9.30-17.30; last admission 16.30; also wknds leading up to Xmas for Xmas activities. Shop. Cafe. Gardens and grounds. Holiday accommodation (www.athollestateslodges.co.uk). Pony trekking and horse riding (www.blaircastletrekking.co.uk)
Tel: 01796 481207 Web: www.blair-castle.co.uk
Weddings and events: Web: www.blaircastleweddings.co.uk
Atholl estate: Web: www.atholl-estates.co.uk
Standing in a beautiful mountainous location in an extensive estate, Blair Castle is a fairytale rambling mansion with towers, turrets, battlements and whitewashed walls.
The castle incorporates the 13th-century Comyn’s Tower, of which only the lower part survives. The building was then added to through the centuries, then completely remodelled in the 18th century, with the removal of its upper storeys, to turn it into a Georgian mansion. The Duke of Atholl had the architect David Bryce restore the look of the mansion back to the original in 1872. The castle stands in acres of attractive parkland and grounds, and there is a huge walled garden with colourful borders, ponds and a canal.
The castle has a sumptuous interior with a flourish of 18th century plasterwork in the imposing dining room and grand drawing room.
‘Blair Castel’ is marked on Pont’s map of the Forest of Atholl, and is depicted as a large tower of five storeys with turrets and a garden.
In 1263 the Comyns built a castle here on lands actually owned by David Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl. Edward III of England stayed at the castle in 1336. James V visited in 1529, as did Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1564. The property had passed to the Stewart Earls of Atholl, but in 1629 was granted to John Murray, Master of Tullibardine, after he had married an heiress to the lands.
The Marquis of Montrose used it as a mustering point before the Battle of Tippermuir, and in 1653 the castle was besieged, captured and partly destroyed with powder by Colonel Daniel, one of Cromwell’s commanders. However, it was complete enough for the young Earl of Atholl to try to recapture it in 1654.
The castle was garrisoned by Bonnie Dundee, John Graham of Claverhouse, in 1689, and it was here that his body was brought after the Battle of Killiecrankie. The Earls of Atholl were made Marquises, then Dukes of Atholl in 1703, and gained the sovereignty of the Isle of Man in 1736, which they held until 1765 when it was given to the Crown.
Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed at Blair in 1745, during the Rising. The following year the castle was held by Hanoverian forces, and attacked and damaged by Lord George Murray, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s general and the Duke’s brother. It is the last castle in Britain to have been besieged. Robert Burns visited in 1787, as did Queen Victoria.
Members of the family of Dukes of Atholl are buried in a vault in the chapter house at Dunkeld Cathedral [NO 024426].
The castle is said to have a ‘Grey Lady’, that glides about silently (although this may be a confusion with Blair Castle in Ayrshire).
22 Edinburgh Road
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