Dunrobin castle

There is one castle in Scotland that looks completely out of place, and that is Dunrobin. Indeed, were you to present a photograph of Dunrobin to an informed traveller and ask them to nominate where in the world they thought it was, most would be confident in answering “France”. Some might even be so sharp as to hone in on the “Loire Valley”. They’d be wrong. Dunrobin Castle overlooks the Moray Firth, just north of the villages of Golspie and Dornoch and is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses, the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms.

The Castle, resembles a French chateâu with its towering conical spires.

© photo by Jack_spellingbacon / Wikimedia Commons / licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 from Flickr
Derivative work by Snowmanradio
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Dunrobin’s origins lie in the Middle Ages, but most of the present building and the gardens were added by Sir Charles Barry between 1835 and 1850. Some of the original building is visible in the interior courtyard, despite a number of expansions and alterations.

Dunrobin hasn’t quite got the bloody history of most Scottish castles, but it isn’t without it’s colour either. Robert the Bruce planted ‘the Gordons’, who supported his claim to the crown, at Huntly in Aberdeenshire, and they were created Earls of Huntly in 1445. The Earldom passed to the Gordon family in the 16th century when the 8th Earl of Sutherland gave his daughter Elizabeth in marriage to Adam Gordon. After the 8th Earl died in 1508, Elizabeth’s elder brother was declared heir to the title, but a brieve (writ) of idiocy brought against him and his younger brother by the Gordons meant that the possession of the estate went to Adam Gordon in 1512.

In 1518, in the absence of Adam Gordon, the castle was captured by Alexander Sutherland, the legitimate heir to the Earldom of Sutherland. The Gordons quickly retook the castle, captured Alexander and placed his head on a spear on top of the castle tower. Alexander’s son John made an attempt on the castle in 1550, but was killed in the gardens.

The gardens have also been developed along the lines of a French chateau.

© photo by Margot Manson licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the Jacobites stormed Dunrobin Castle without warning, because the Clan Sutherland supported the British government. The 17th Earl of Sutherland, who had changed his surname from Gordon to Sutherland, narrowly escaped them, exiting through a back door. He sailed for Aberdeen where he joined the Duke of Cumberland’s army.


Glenmorangie Distillery has been producing its Single Highland malt Scotch whisky since 1843. Crafting the delicate spirit is entrusted to the legendary ‘Sixteen Men of Tain’. A tour of the distillery will introduce you to these skilled mashmen, stillmen and warehousemen as they go about their daily work. You’ll see the shining elegance of Glenmorangie’s copper stills, the tallest in Scotland, standing 16 feet 10 inches (5.14 metres) high. This ensures that only the purest, most delicate vapours are condensed into spirit. With the help of an expert guide you will experience all stages of the whisky making process – all culminating in a dram or two of your choice.

You should endeavour to take in at least one distillery on your visit, and Glenmorangie at Tain, stacks up very well being both accessible and comprehensive, as well as a ‘named’ whisky producer of repute