Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. It is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s. Dunrobin Castle has been called home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century and was first mentioned as a stronghold of the family in 1401. The castle stands possibly on the site of an early medieval fort. The name Dun Robin means Robin's Hill or Fort in Gaelic and may have come from Robert, the 6th Earl of Sutherland who died in 1427.

The early castle was actually a fortified, square keep, with walls six feet thick and a vaulted ceiling, looking out from a cliff-top position. The keep stood isolated for some 200 years until a staircase and a high house were added. 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.

Sir Charles Barry was retained in 1845 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, who were inspired by Queen Victoria's new residence at Balmoral. Barry had been the architect for the Houses of Parliament in London and was much in demand. There is very much a French influence with conical spires to the whole project, including the gardens, based on Versailles, which he laid out in the 1850s. Much of Barry's interior was destroyed by a fire in 1915 and the interior today is mainly the work of Scottish architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, who altered the top of the main tower and clock tower at the north side of the building to the Scottish Renaissance style.

Following the death of the 5th Duke in 1963, the Earldom and Dukedom were separted. The Dukedom passed on through the male line whilst the present Countess of Sutherland inherited the Earldom. The Castle became a boys’ boarding school for a period of seven years from the late 1960s before reverting back to being a family house.

Dunrobin Castle is open annually in summer season.

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Founded: 13th/19th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Iain Small (10 months ago)
A stunning fairytale castle to visit, and a wee jewel in the heart of the Highlands. Good historical interest, lovely gardens, absolutely stunning views and a brilliant falconry display, twice a day. It does contain historical old world stags heads and animal rugs, so perhaps not for everyone who is sensitive to these historical artifacts.
Keith Allen (10 months ago)
A great house come castle with a very good laid out path through the house. Information boards in each room provide the base info on that's rooms usage. One of the room hosts also did a short pop up talk about the castle which was great. The gardens are beautiful. And dont forget to visit the museum building. Well recommended.
Karl Wilson (10 months ago)
Amazing castle and gardens. Like something out of a Disney movie. The Falconry was excellent too. Really good value for money. The beach just outside the Castle walls is worth a visit too. Very quiet and tranquil. I would very much recommend a visit to anyone visiting this area of Scotland.
Chris Walker (13 months ago)
Travelled there by train to its own station - a request stop. Gave us around 5 hours there. Beautiful gardens although we were "in-between" seasons for the flowers. An entertaining and informative falcon display. Beautiful interior and displays in the castle. Also had time to wander through the woods to the West of the castle where there were carpets of bluebells. Cafe with a selection of food and drink.
Lorraine Stuart (14 months ago)
Seriously worth a visit, very enjoyable and highly informative with lots to see. Castle is very impressive, lovely building lots of natural light, many fascinating paintings, even a old fire engine!! Loved the Christmas card from Queen Victoria to the duchess, was a very personal touch. The grounds and views over the sea are lovely, with many walks around the grounds. Will definitely visit next time we are in the area.
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