is a most interesting castle. The structure consists of two separate tower
houses, of a type common from the north of England through the Borders up
into Scotland, which were subsequently joined together to form a larger
residence. The arrangement of rooms inside very much reflects this unusual
history, which tells its own story of the needs of its former owners.
The site, outside the town, on the West side of Perth, is naturally
protected on the west by a narrow valley, and on the north by a steep bank
descending to the river. The east and south sides are open and
unprotected; no evidence suggests defensive banks or ditches, but there
were probably formal gardens and orchards here during its occupation.
The eastern tower is the earlier, with the fifteenth century gatehouse
having been enlarged to form the three storeys and a garret in around
1500. The original arched entrance to the passageway into the courtyard is
still visible, as is the spring of the vault on the inside. A mezzanine
wooden floor was constructed, but then replaced by the existing stone
barrel vault. On the first floor was the solar, or main residential hall.
The fireplace is from a later remodelling, otherwise this room looks much
as it must have during the early part of the sixteenth century. On the
north side is a rectangular window, with seats, and to the left of the
fireplace, where a cupboard originally was, another window now helps to
provide light. The stunning painted wooden ceiling of this room, dating
from around 1540, was only revealed by the removal of later pine panelling
in 1913. Although sore on the neck, it is well worth spending some time
examining the various designs, from knotwork, to botanical to zoomorphic.
The remaining traces of painted plaster in the room seem to date from even
earlier; again, time to trace out the features is well rewarded. The
second floor room has a fine early sixteenth century fireplace, useful
cupboards and shelves, again, seats at the window, and a private latrine.
The garret was reached by a door in the west gable.
Around the same time as the eastern tower was being remodelled, the
western tower was constructed about 3m away. The extraordinarily small
distance between the towers is presumed to be a result of the division of
the land between two brothers, William, the Master of Ruthven, and John.
It seems that each tower was used as a separate residence for their
respective families, but the proximity would provide extra security and
shared use of out buildings. The Western tower is slightly larger than the
East, with a projecting chamber-block rising to four storeys. Again, the
first floor would have been the hall, but the floors in this tower have
not survived, and the features are mostly those of the seventeenth century
rebuilding, when the connecting walls between the two towers was built.
However, some wall paintings from the original rooms survive - the remains
of a coat of arms, datable to pre-1513, as John Erskine of Dun, whose arms
appear on the right hand side, was killed at the battle of Flodden in that
year, and his wife, Margaret of Ruthven, had remarried by 1518. The garret
on top of the West tower housed a dovecot, to provide fresh meat for the
The builders of Ruthven, as it was known, were prominent at court and
Queen Mary came to stay here in 1565 with her new husband, Lord Darnley.
Darker times came and the young James VI was 'persuaded' to stay at
Ruthven for almost a year from August 1582, while the Earl of Gowrie, the
former fourth Lord Ruthven, held the chief power in the land. The King had
his revenge however, as Gowrie was beheaded at Stirling Castle on 2 May
1584. The castle became part of the Crown properties, and in September
that same year, James VI stayed at Ruthven for the hunting, fleeing from
the plague in Perth after a week or so. Although the castle and lands were
restored to Gowrie's son James in 1586, the family fortunes took another
turn for the worse, and the third Earl, James' brother John, and another
brother, Alexander, were killed in mysterious circumstances in their town
house in Perth in 1600. The King took his full revenge on the Ruthven
family, the brothers being convicted of high treason despite the fact that
they were already dead, and the name of Ruthven was expunged from the Book
of Arms. He didn't stop there however, but ordered the bodied to be
hanged, drawn and quartered in public view, and the heads and quarters
were displayed in Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee and Sterling. Ruthven castle
became Huntingtower Castle, and from the Crown's hands, passed in 1663 to
the Earl of Tullibardine. The property passed through generations and
families until the estate was sold to various buyers in 1805. The castle
itself was used by John Buchan as accommodation for the workers at his
nearby cloth-printing factory. In 1912, it came into state care, and it is
now looked after by Historic Scotland.
To Visit In this Area Include:
Alyth Folk Museum, open only in summer, has collection of
agricultural and domestic artefacts.
Secluded and unsignposted village built on private property. Houses
overlook village green split by rushing burn.
Remains of Pictish fort on top of hill. Guinevere, King Arthur's
queen, is said to have been imprisoned here for loving Pictish prince.
Village, dating from 19th century, on River Tay. Birnam Wood mostly
birch and oak. Terrace Walk along right bank of Tay passes oak said to be
last survivor of original Birnam Wood featured in prophecy of Macbeth's
Blairgowrie and Rattray
Scotland's largest working water wheel on view at Keathbank Mill.
Heraldic crests centre here. Two towns linked by 19th-century bridge over
River Ericht. North of town, river rushes through 200ft deep gorge
overlooked by 17th-century Craighall.
Described as finest 2 acres of private garden in country. Gardeners
from all over world come to see collection of plants including
rhododendrons, alpines, and herbaceous and peat-garden plants.
Bridge of Cally
Peaceful village in sheltered gorge at meeting place of River Ardle
and Black Water. Choice of walks through deciduous forests.
Camperdown House and Country Park
European brown bears, wolves, lynxes, arctic foxes, reindeer,
raccoons and golden eagles can be seen at wildlife centre. Other
activities include golf, horse riding, tennis and Adventure Park. House
has golf museum tracing sport's history.
From Law of Dundee, hill of volcanic rock in centre of town, views
of surrounding areas including docks. Iron Age hill-fort and War Memorial
here. McManus Galleries have displays of history and art including Dutch,
French, Italian and British paintings, and oldest known astrolabe --
dating from 1555. Barrack Street Museum has natural history exhibits.
Steeple of St Mary's Tower, dating from 16th century, now museum of church
and local history. Ruins of Mains of Fintry Castle in Caird Park. Mills
Observatory has displays on astrology and space travel, and allows public
to use telescopes. Traditional methods of sweet making explained at Shaw's
Sweet Factory- Frigate Unicorn, oldest British-built ship still
afloat is now museum for Royal Navy. 11115 Discovery, Captain
Scott's ship, has displays of ship's history, with actors reliving events
on board. In suburb of Broughty Ferry, 4 miles east of town, Broughty
Castle houses museum of whaling and local life.
Ruined cathedral dates from 12th century, 14th-century choir now
houses parish church. Cathedral and High Streets have restored
17th-century houses, one of which has metal ell, measurement for cloth, on
wall. Scottish Horse Museum has memorabilia of one of Scotland's two
Highland yeomanry regiments.
Iron Age hill-fort enclosed by strong rampart -- said to be site of
Pictish symbol stone in ruins of Eassie church. Cross and figures
carved on one side; elephant men and animals on other.
St Marnock's Church dates from 1453 and has medieval painted
panels, bronze alms dish and bell dated 1508. Jougs -- iron collars for
tying up wrongdoers -- still hang from oak doors. Nearby Fowlis Castle
built early 17th century.
Glamis Castle, childhood home of Queen Mother and birthplace of
Princess Margaret, reputed to be most haunted stately home in Britain.
Six-storey tower built in 15th century, but wings, turrets and castellated
parapets added in the 17th century. Collection of tapestries, paintings,
furniture and weapons. Parkland and formal garden laid out by Capability
Brown; also 2lft high sundial with 84 dials. Angus Folk Museum in Kirkwynd
has collection of furnishings, clothes and tools used by local community
over last 200 years housed in 19th-century cottages. Glamis Stone nearby
has intricate carvings.
From gentle, forested slopes around village of Clova, glen narrows
to wild mountain home of red deer, wildcat and ptarmigan.
River Isla runs through picturesque valley for 17 miles. Loch
fishing, horse riding and cross-country skiing. Highland Adventure Centre
at Knockshannach, east of Kirkton of Glenisla.
Roadside cairn in memory of Captain Scott and Dr Wilson, who
planned their Antarctic exploration at Dr Wilson's home in the glen. Walks
through birch woods along glen.
The Hermitage Woodland
Walk leads through wooded area containing numerous exotic trees,
beneath 19th-century railway bridge, along River Braan, past 18th-century
bridge to folly over-looking waterfall.
Highland Motor Heritage Centre
Classic and vintage cars, costumes and accessories displayed in
authentic period settings.
Ramparts and ditches of timber fortress built by Roman general
Agricola in AD 83.
Three-storey house is the start for Victorian walk which passes
wooded river bank where Queen Victoria once took tea, then 4 mile climb up
Kindrogan Hill where surrounding mountains are indicated on circular map.
Village overlooking Carse of Gowrie, River Tay and Ochil Hills.
Kinnaird Castle dates from 12th century -- restored in 1855 and now
Kirkton of Glenisla
Ruined Forter Castle stands 4 miles north-west of village. The
village itself is on River Isla.
Birthplace of author and playwright J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter
Pan. His home now houses Bane Museum. On hill behind the graveyard where
Barrie is buried is cricket pavilion with camera obscura. Views north
towards highlands and south across Strathmore Valley.
Loch of Kinnordy
Freshwater loch with large numbers of nesting water birds.
Loch of the Lowes
Loch is part of Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve. Hide allows for
viewing of water birds and pair of nesting ospreys. Visitor centre has
wildlife exhibition and several small aquaria. Woods surrounding centre
populated by roe and fallow deer.
Megginch Castle Gardens
The grounds of this 15th-century castle have a physic garden,
16th-century rose garden, astrological garden and 1000-year-old yews.
Meigle Museum contains 25 Pictish and early Christian carved
stones, found in churchyard.
Beech hedge, 100ft high and 580yds long, forms eastern border of
Marquis of Lansdowne's home -- said to be largest hedge of its kind in
Ancient city, made Royal Burgh in 1210, though few old buildings
remain. St John's Kirk conse-crated in 1243, but now mainly 15th century.
From here, John Knox preached his sermon on idolatry that resulted in
church wrecking throughout Scotland. Restored mill from 18th century
produces flour and oatmeal in the traditional way. Fair Maid of Perth's
House, once home of Catherine Glover, heroine of Sir Walter Scott's novel,
now a craft shop. Black Watch Museum and Gallery holds treasures of
High-land regiments. Perth Art Gallery and Museum has displays of local
history, art, natural history and archaeology. Whisky blending explained
at Dewar's distillery. Walk up Kinnoul Hill to folly at top, views of
Village of 18th-century cottages and houses. North-east stands a
prehistoric burial mound.
Impressive waterfall where River Isla cascades into deep gorge.
Pink-stone castellated mansion, enlarged in 1803 around
16th-century and earlier buildings. Place where kings of Scotland were
crowned. Interior reveals china, ivories, clocks and exquisite French
furniture -- including Marie Antoinette's writing table. Grounds include
pinetum, wood-land garden, children's play-ground and picnic area.
Elaborately decorated chapel on Moot Hill in front of palace.
Well-preserved example of Iron Age earth house, comprising
pas-sage, long gallery and small inner chambers. Close by is dovecote
shaped like house, built 1595.
kindly supplied by Scot Travel