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Dunrobin Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Dunrobin Castle, the Scottish seat of the Duke of Sutherland, in Golspie parish, Sutherland, on a terrace overlooking the sea, near a private station on the Highland railway, 17/8 mile NE of Golspie, and 4¼ WSW of Brora. It boasts to be the oldest inhabited house in the kingdom, founded in 1098 or 1275 by Robert, Thane or Earl of Sutherland, after whom it received its name, but of whom history knows absolutely nothing; the greater portion of it, however, is modern, built by the second Duke between 1845 and 1851. It thus forms two piles conjoint with one another, and together constituting a solid mass of masonry, 100 feet square, and 80 feet high. The ancient pile on the seaward side is a plain but dignified specimen of the old Scottish Baronial architecture. The new is very much larger than the old, and, blending the features of German schloss, French chateau, and Scottish fortalice, makes a goodly display of oriel windows, battlements, turrets, and pinnacles; whilst its great entrancetower, at the north-eastern angle, is 28 feet square and 135 high. Internally, the castle is arranged in suites distinguished by the names of different members or relations of the family, as the Duke's, the Argyll, the Blantyre, and the Cromartie Rooms, the last so called after George, the Jacobite third Earl of Cromartie, who here was made prisoner by the Sutherland militia, 15 April 1746. Each of these suites comprises a complete set of sitting and bed rooms, and is decorated in a style of its own; and that on the seaward front is separated from the others by a wide gallery or passage, is adorned and furnished in the most costly and elegant manner, commands from a bedroom oriel window a wide and magnificent view, and was set apart for the use of the Queen so long ago as 1851. From one cause and another Her Majesty's visit was postponed till September 1872, when it fell to her to lay the foundation stone of a monument to her late mistress of the robes, the second Duchess (1806-68). A beautiful Eleanor cross, 40 feet high, with a bronze bust by Noble, this monument, finished in 1874, crowns a slight eminence to the right of the principal avenue. Prior to the Queen's visit, Dunrobin had twice received the Prince and the Princess of Walesin 1866 and 1871. Very fine flower gardens, between a terrace (100 yards long) and the sea, are reached by successive broad flights of steps; behind is the beautiful park, in which are two ' brochs' or dry-built circular towers. One of these, being excavated by the Rev. Dr Joass, yielded two little plates of brass, the one oblong, the other semicircular (Mr Joseph Anderson, Rhind Lecture, 31 Oct. 1881). Both castle and grounds are accessible to the public. George Granville William Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, present and third Duke (b. 1828; suc. 1861), holds 1,176,343 acres, or more than nine-tenths of the shire, valued at £56,396 per annum. See Sutherland, Cromarty, and Ben-a-Bhragie.Ord. Sur., sh. 103, 1878.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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