Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl.

Blair Castle is said to have been started in 1269 by John I Comyn, Lord of Badenoch. John Murray, son of the second Earl of Tullibardine, was created Earl of Atholl in 1629, and the title has since remained in the Murray family.

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms of the 17th century, the Murrays supported the Royalist cause, which led to Blair Castle being taken by Oliver Cromwell's army following his invasion of 1650.

The oldest part of the castle is the six-storey Cummings or Comyn's Tower, which may retain some 13th-century fabric, though it was largely built in the 15th century. The extensions which now form the central part of the castle were first added in the 16th century. The apartments to the south were added in the mid-18th century to designs by architects John Douglas and James Winter. The south-east range, incorporating the clock tower, was rebuilt by Archibald Elliot after a fire in 1814. Finally, the castle arrived at its present form in the 1870s, when David Bryce remodelled the whole building in a Scots Baronial style, and added the ballroom. It was further remodelled in 1885 when a new ballroom wing was added by James Campbell Walker.

The castle has been open to the public since 1936. Its many rooms feature important collections of weapons, hunting trophies, souvenirs of the Murray clan, ethnographica, paintings, furniture, and needlework collected by the Murray family over many generations.

The castle also provides the garrison for the Atholl Highlanders, the private army of the Duke of Atholl, noted as the only legal private army in Europe.

Most Dukes of Atholl are buried in the Family Burial Ground (photo) next to the ruins of St Bride's Kirk in the grounds of Blair Castle. St Bride's was the village church of Old Blair but fell into disuse after 1823 when the estate village was relocated to its current location.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Mark Spencer (14 months ago)
Been coming here for years now, 1st came to watch the horse trials, loved it so much we keep on coming back. Got engaged here, now we bring our kids here. Beautiful part of the world!
Grahame Latto (14 months ago)
Beautiful day. Beautiful gardens. Best orchard I've seen. Hercules Garden is a special place. Woodland walk is lovely. Nice Halloween touches around the woods.
Elaine Booth (15 months ago)
A fabulous castle, wonderful woodlands and Hercules garden. A great tour around the castle, a very knowledgeable guide. We loved exploring the parkland and old Kirk too.
Kevin Jones (15 months ago)
Mark Smith (16 months ago)
Impressive, peaceful place to visit. Well maintained grounds. Had an enjoyable picnic on the front lawn. The extremely tame ducks in the water garden area were a particular highlight!
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