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 Donald (29 days ago)
Loved the castle such a nice place very interesting. Lots of arms and armour and non military items to look at. Deer park was good saw a freshly birthed baby as mum just ate the placenta when we were there gardens were good for a walk baby geese and swans. Make sure not to get attacked by the geese though
Helen Torrie (3 months ago)
We only walked round the gardens. We didn't go into the Castle. Gardens are lovely and will change from week to week due to different flowers plants trees etc. Definitely worth a visit
shrimpalimp89 (3 months ago)
Great walk with family and dog. Great scenery and grounds with a nice cafe and shop. Couple of small play parks for the kids and picnic benches too. It's a great day out.
Urban Music Urban (9 months ago)
A fantastic reminder of the ostentatious exploitation of the Empire for personal and family profit. A private army, no less. And you can visit the place they hanged a guy! His name isn't recorded. Perhaps they didn't know it. And there are some lovely, lovely trees.
Anne Drummond (11 months ago)
Beautiful place. Amazing grounds and gardens. If you get the chance, visit this place its stunning especially the Hercules Garden.
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