Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Fri, 2009-11-27
This is one of the largest great houses in the Highlands with 189 rooms. It is also Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited dwelling. Parts of the house can be dated back to the early 1300’s.
As you drive through Golspie heading North, you will come to the entrance to Dunrobin Castle. There is private parking, a buffet, a gift shop and wonderful formal gardens to explore as well as the house and museum.
Dunrobin Castle is the seat of Clan Sutherland. The oldest part dates from the late 13th century and was first mentioned as a stronghold of the family in 1401. The name “Dun Robin”, Gaelic meaning Robin’s hill or fort, may have come from Robert, the 6th Earl of Sutherland who died in 1427. The 13th century “keep” is no longer visible from the outside of the castle but can be seen from the corridor windows. The “keep”, with walls six feet thick and a vaulted ceiling, stood isolated for some 200 years until a new staircase and a long high house were added. It was encased by a series of additions from the 16th century onwards. In 1785 a large extension was constructed.
There are many collections of furniture, pictures, objets d’art, uniforms, china and family memorabilia on display in the Drawing Room, Library, study, bedrooms, nurseries, etc. Visitors to the castle can also see a 19th century horsedrawn fire engine in the Sub Hall and look at the museum which is housed in the old summer house.
Nearby Dunrobin Castle railway station, on the Far North Line was originally a private station for the castle. Dunrobin’s origins lie in the Middle Ages, but most of the present building is the work of Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Palace of Westminster in London, who greatly extended the building in 1845. The resulting house has a French Renaissance meets Scots Baronial’ style. Some of the original building is visible in the interior courtyard.
It was encased by a series of additions from the 16th century onwards. In 1785 a large extension was constructed. Remarkably this early keep still survives, much altered, within the complex of these later extensions, making Dunrobin one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland.
Dunrobin Castle Garden The garden is formal and is divided into two parterres both laid out around circular pools with fountains. The design is much as Barry left it but there have been recent exciting refurbishments to the planting and ornamentation. This includes avenues of Tuscan laurel and Whitebeam and the construction of wooden pyramid features. The old method of tree culture, pleaching, has also been re-introduced.
Dunrobin Castle Garden Museum:
The garden museum in the formal casle grounds provides a further fascinating distraction. Originially build as a summer house by William, Earl Of Sutherland, it was extended by the 3rd Duke. The museum displays 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.
Dunrobin Castle is open to the public for tours. The hours are:
- 1 April to 31 May: Mon – Sat, 10.30am – 4.30pm andSunday 12.00 noon – 4.30pm
- July and August: Open daily – 10.30am to 5pm
- 1 June to 30 September: Mon to Sat, 10.30am – 5.30pm and Sunday 12.00 noon – 5.30pm
- 1 Oct to 15 Oct: Mon – Sat, 10.30am – 4.30pm and Sunday 12.00 noon – 4.30pm
Contact: Dunrobin Castle and Gardens Tel: +44 (0)1408 633177 Fax: +44(0)1408 634081
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