Blair Castle is nestled in the dramatic landscape of Highland Perthshire and has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl. Unique amongst Scottish castles, the story told here will take you from a visit by Mary Queen of Scots to the Civil War and from the Jacobite cause to the disaster of Culloden following Bonnie Prince Charlie's own stay in the castle. You'll hear how the lucky inheritance of a smuggler-infested island helped turn the castle into a comfortable home and how a visit from Queen Victoria led to the creation of Europe's only surviving private army, the Atholl Highlanders.
More than 30 rooms are on display, full of Scottish cultural history, architectural design, period furnishings, family portraits, landscape paintings and a colourful military past. Highlights include the Victorian Ballroom which is decorated with 175 pairs of antlers, the Entrance Hall which features weapons used at the Battle of Culloden, the classic Georgian styling of the Picture Staircase and the granduer of the Drawing Room and State Dining Room.
New for 2016:
In the 'Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design' the distinctive contribution past and present by members of the family at Blair Castle and on Atholl Estates will be highlighted. Displays will include designs, based on those in the threatened Syrian city of Palmrya, for the 18th century plasterwork still to be seen in the castle. Inspiration from the Hercules garden, conceived by the 2nd Duke, will be reflected in needlework created by the Embroiderers guild. The methods by which the estate has used hydro power as a source of energy for over a century will be compared and original plans for the World Heritage site of the Forth Rail Bridge will be on display.
We will also continue our Great War commemorations which we began in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of WWI. It demonstrates the involvement of the Duke of Atholl and his family in the war. Discover how the Duke's 3 sons were sent off to battle, how his daughters helped with the war effort and how the ballroom was transformed into a Red Cross Hospital. The exhibition includes letters, photos and documents belonging to the Duke's sons; a section on the ballroom as a hospital; and information about the fundraising effort for the National War Memorial.
The castle grounds feature a magnificent 9 acre walled garden, recently restored to its original Georgian design, of fruit trees and vegetables, complete with Chinese bridge, gothic folly and a trail of contemporary and 18th century sculptures. A peaceful wooded grove with some of Britain's tallest and finest trees sits alongside the ruins of St Bride's Kirk, the final resting place of Jacobite leader, Bonnie Dundee. Around the grounds, visitors can spot local wildlife and enjoy picturesque views across Highland Perthshire while younger visitors can explore the adventure playground and Red Deer Park.
Other Quality Awards
Gold Green Tourism Award
Blair Castle and Gardens
Cairngorms National Park