Blair Castle

Blair Castle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Blair Castle

Located in Strath Garry, just to the north of Blair Atholl in Perth and Kinross, a village that served the castle, Blair Castle was rebuilt in 1869 for John Stewart-Murray, the 7th Duke of Atholl (1840 - 1917). The distinctive white-washed edifice in the Scottish-Baronial style was the work of architect David Bryce (1803-76). Blair Castle has undergone many changes since the 13th Century expanding the fortune's of the Atholls and changing its appearance to suit the style of the day. Today, little can be seen externally of these earlier works.

A tower was first erected c.1269 by the Comyns of Badenoch during an incursion into Atholl territory while the Earl of Atholl was away. After complaining to King Alexander III (1241-86), the site was reclaimed and has been a home to the Earls then Dukes of Atholl continuously since then. The original tower was significantly extended in the 15th and 16th Centuries, although much was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1654) while trying to extract James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612-50) who was garrisoned here. His cousin, John Graham of Claverhouse (1649-89) who occupied the castle in 1689 was brought back after his death at the Battle of Killiecrankie and lies buried nearby.

During the '45, Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-88) stayed here briefly on his way south after raising his standard at Glenfinnan. In 1746, the Castle was occupied by government troops and besieged by Lord George Murray (1694 - 1760), Jacobite brother of the 2nd Duke, the last siege of any castle in Britain. Other historic figures who have stayed at Blair include King Edward III, King James V, Mary Queen of Scots, Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

The castle was subject to various alterations 1903-08 by Edinburgh-based architect J. Macintyre Henry (1852 - 1929). Situated in parkland, approached by an avenue of Lime trees the castle is home to a fine collection of arms, furniture and portraits by Henry Raeburn (1756 - 1823) and Allan Ramsay (1713-84). A hydro-electric scheme which was instituted by the 7th Duke in 1908 but abandoned with the availability of cheaper electricity from the national grid in 1951, was restored and brought back into service in 2015.

Today, the castle and estate are maintained through a charitable trust following the death of the bachelor 10th Duke.

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