Blair Castle

Entry gate to Blair Castle
Blair Castle is located in northern Perthshire, near the village of Blair Atholl in central Scotland, in the southern Highlands (the Grampians). Historically, it was a strategic location which controlled the main route from the south up to Inverness.  Atholl (from the Gaelic Ath Fodhla) was an ancient Pictish Kingdom, which had kings in very early times. After that, Mormaers ruled over the area, and finally earls and dukes in later times.

Blair Castle
Blair Castle is now known as the seat of nineteen generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl (earls and dukes).  But some of the earlier earls were named Strathbogie (said to have been a semi-Normanized Gaelic family from Fife) including: David de Strathbogie, 8th Earl of Atholl (d. 1270), John de Strathbogie, 9th Earl of Atholl (d. 1306) and David II Strathbogie  (d. 1326). Records show that in 1269, their neighbor John Cumming (Comyn) Lord of Badenoch moved in while the then earl was away on the crusades, and started building a tower. The earl complained to King Alexander III and regained his land. He kept the tower and incorporated it into his own castle. Cumming's Tower still stands as the oldest and tallest part of the castle. After rebelling against the king, Robert the Bruce in 1322, David II was forced to forfeit the titles and estates.

Click to enlarge photo
Above you can just see the tip top of Cumming's Tower at the back of the castle.

Clock Tower
As you can see, it was a bright, sunny day when we visited Blair Castle last September. First, we went inside to tour the castle. The entrance hall is amazing as it also serves as an armory with a massive amount of historical weaponry on display including targes and muskets used at the Battle of Culloden. We were only allowed to take photos in one room within the castle. This room displayed many weapons, armor, paintings and other historical pieces.

Chainmail armor, spears and other weapons

Gambeson or padded under armor with weapons

Thomas Stewart, Lieut. 77th (Atholl) Highlanders , 1776 -1783

 Throughout the castle we saw many red deer stag heads and antlers. One reason for this is that red deer have been kept and raised at the estate for centuries as pets or like livestock in the Red Deer park. Lots of them were named. The stag in the entry hall was named Tilt after nearby Glen Tilt. He was killed in a fight with another stag in 1850 at age 13. Click here to see a photo of the Entrance Hall. You can just see Tilt's head behind the table.

Click this photo to enlarge
 The earldom changed hands several times over the next century. It was held briefly by a Campbell and others until 1457 when King James II granted the earldom of Atholl to his half-brother John Stewart as a reward. John was sent to subdue the troublesome Macdonalds, Lords of the Isles, with the royal injunction Furth Fortune and fill the fetters. A modern day translation would be: Get the chains on him and the future's yours. He was successful in his quest and this became the family motto. The 3rd Earl added the great hall to Blair Castle. Mary Queen of Scots visited the 4th Earl in 1564 and stayed at Blair Castle. The 5th Earl died without sons in 1595. He had a daughter, Dorothea who married Sir William Murray of Tullibardine. Her son, John, became the 1st Murray Earl of Atholl in 1629 and the title has remained with the Murrays since then. The title Earl of Atholl has been recreated ten times. Each time it was recreated, that person was the 1st Earl of Atholl.

Padded under armor and helm

Red deer stag and hinds (females) in the Red Deer Park

Part of the red deer herd

Click this photo to enlarge
 An amazing view over the Scottish countryside. The grass is incredibly green. I loved seeing the mountains in the distance.

Stone wall that encloses Diana's Grove

A road through the beautiful estate.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour.  Next time we'll take a walk through Diana's Grove and see the incredible tall trees.


 Lady Angelique Drummagan, a half-Scottish, half-French countess, has suffered much pain and betrayal in her past. She wants nothing to do with the sensual Scottish warrior that the king has ordered her to marry because the rogue could never be a faithful husband, but she has little choice in the matter. Dangerous, greedy enemies threaten her from all sides and she's in dire need of his protection.

Sir Lachlan MacGrath, known as Seducer of the Highlands, possesses a charming wickedness and canny wit which has earned him much popularity. After the king decrees that he wed the fiery hellion, Lachlan discovers there is one woman who can resist him--Angelique. Can he break through her icy fa├žade and melt her heart, or will the dark secrets lurking in her past not only cost them their future together, but their very lives?


Angelyn said...

Tom Stewart has some good-looking legs. Nice scenery. Nice post.

Vonda Sinclair said...

LOL that's true about his legs, Angelyn! Thanks for checking it out!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Wonderful, Vonda. We stayed at Pitlochery and could see the Blair Castle from everywhere we went. They had closed the castle due to a fire six years ago when we were there. I am so glad to see all your photos - all of them awesome as usual.

Vonda Sinclair said...

I heard about the fire in the clocktower, Paisley. Maybe that was the one. So sorry you didn't get to visit it. I love Pitlochery. It's very charming. Thanks so much for checking out my post!

Collette Cameron said...

Wonderful post. I loved the pictures!

I tweeted and shared on FB for you.

Anonymous said...

Love your photos Collette! Last June, I stayed in a B & B in Pitlochry and went to visit Blair castle! We "cheated" we took some photos without the flash. Beautiful souvenirs.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks so much, Collette! I'm glad you liked it.

Nicole, thanks! It must've been wonderful to stay in Pitlochry. I love that town.

Unknown said...

Very cool photos, Vonda, especially of the gambesons. I've never seen a white castle before. Thanks for sharing.

Julie Robinson said...

Love the virtual tour! I have a question about the chain mail. What size man did it look like it would fit? a regular 5'10", 6', shorter, taller? or about the same as today's man? Just curious.

Gerri Bowen said...

Beautiful and interesting photos, Vonda.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Mairi, thanks! Yes, I thought the gambesons were interesting because we don't often think about them. I loved how white and pristine it looked. From what I've read, a lot of castles were painted or whitewashed back in history.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Julie, thanks! About the size of the chainmail, I'm not sure. If I had to guess, I would say it was about average size. I don't remember thinking it was really large or really small. Maybe comparing it to the sword and dirk in the pic could help you gauge the size.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks, Gerri! I'm glad you liked them!

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

You can tell their ancestors weren't small. Great pictures!! Tweeted.

Vanessa Holland said...

Great pictures, Vonda! I looks like a really beautiful place

Vonda Sinclair said...

Ella, thanks! That's true I'm sure.

Thanks, Vanessa! It really is.

Fraoch said...

Great shots, looks like they let you take pictures again. I was there in 1999 and I got some great shots of their weapons. But a friend who is a Blair/Murray descendent was there two years later and they didn't allow any shots inside the castle.

When I was there one of the men in our tour was the biographer of Princess Diana ... Andrew Morton. He joined our group because we were all Americans I think he figured we didn't know who he was. A very British gentlemen and didn't take over the conversation. Though when the Brits in the other group who was touring recognized him he split. But we knew who was and didn't bug him. Seeing Blair Castle in the fall when the leaves are changing colors in the Perth area around the River Tay, just gorgeous.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks, Fraoch! Yes, they allowed us to take pictures only in one room, the ballroom. That's neat about Andrew Morton! I like surprises like that. I can imagine the leaf color would be amazing in fall.

Lana Williams said...

Love the chain mail pics! Fantastic post, Vonda! Thanks for sharing!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks a lot, Lana! I'm glad you liked it!

Jennifer (JC Page) said...

Love the pictures Vonda!! Happy you shared. Interesting weapons and town history. Looking forward to more!!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Jennifer, thank you! It is a very interesting place.

June M. said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing them and the info with us.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, June, for checking them out!