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Dunrobin Castle, Highland, Scotland

Dunrobin Castle, Highland, Scotland (Known places)

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Dunrobin Castle is a stately home in Sutherland, in the Highland area of Scotland, United Kingdom, and the seat of the Countess of Sutherland and Clan Sutherland. It is close to the A9 road, and to a Far North Line railway station, which is named for the castle.


Though Dunrobin's origins lie in the 1300s, much of what can be seen today is the result of extensive remodelling by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Palace of Westminster (the United Kingdom Houses of Parliament), who greatly extended or re-clad the original relatively plain medieval castle to create a 'fairy-tale' architectural fantasy. Stylistically the house has a distinctly 'French renaissance meets Scots-Baronial' feel. Some of the original building is visible in the interior courtyard.

The Earldom of Sutherland was created circa 1230 (789 years ago), and a castle appears to have stood on this site since then, possibly on the site of an early medieval fort (the 'dun' of the place-name). The early castle was a fortified, square keep with few, and small, windows, looking out from a cliff top position, probably surrounded by a defensive 'curtain wall'. Remarkably, this early keep still survives, much altered, within the complex of later extensions, making Dunrobin one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland.

During the Uprising in 1745 (274 years ago), the Jacobites stormed Clan Sutherland's Dunrobin Castle without warning. The Earl of Sutherland who had changed his surname from Gordon to Sutherland; William Sutherland the 17th Earl, narrowly escaped them through a back door. He sailed for Aberdeen where he joined the Duke of Cumberland's army.

Sir Charles Barry was retained in 1845 (174 years ago) to completely re-model the castle. To change it from a fort to a house in the "Scottish Baronial" style that had become popular among the aristocracy. Barry had been the architect for the House of Commons in Central London and was much in demand. There are 189 rooms, making it the largest house in the northern Highlands

There is a decided French influence to the whole project, including the gardens, based on Versailles. It has a distinct air of "French Scottish" Barry's house, with 189 rooms is in the popular vein. Much of Barry's interior was destroyed by a fire in 1915 (104 years ago). The interior you see today is mainly the work of the Scottish architect, Sir Robert Lorimer.

The 5th Duke died in 1963 (56 years ago), and with the convoluted way of British nobility succession, the Earldom and the house went to the current Countess of Sutherland, the Dukedom was passed to John Egerton, Earl of Ellesmere. The house became a boy's boarding school for a period of seven years from the late 1960 (59 years ago) before reverting back to being a family house.

An exhibition includes the colours of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, the famous thin red line at Balaclava.

With 189 rooms, Dunrobin Castle is said to be the largest house in the Scottish Highlands. Falconry displays are put on in the castle's grand gardens. There is also a museum displaying the heads of numerous animals shot by the family on safari, ethnographic items collected from around the world (particularly Africa), and an important collection of archaeological relics, collected from the enormous Sutherland estates. Notable among these are the collection of Pictish symbol stones and cross-slabs, including a majority of those discovered in Sutherland. The museum retains its Victorian-early 20th century arrangement, making it one of the most remarkable private collections in the British Isles. It is housed in an 18th century summer-house adjoining the formal gardens. It is also the castle pictured in the great movie Barry Lyndon starring Ryan O'Neal.

The castle is a 1 mi (2 km) walk north of Golspie (with a Citylink bus-service from Inverness) and approximately 5 miles south of the fishing village Brora on the A9.



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