Gone but not forgotten – 10 lost Scottish stately homes

A surprising number of Scottish castles and mansions have fallen into disrepair or have vanished entirely. 

Here are ten of the most magnifient of these lost treasures.

1. Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire

Hamilton Palace was once the grandest house in Scotland. The former seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, it was built in 1695 by the architect James Smith, with a new north front designed by William Adam in the 1730s and completed in 1842. The house was used as a naval hospital during World War One, but in 1921 neglect, combined with subsidence from nearby coal mines, led to the house being demolished.

2. Langton House, Borders

A property has stood on the Lands of Langton, near Duns, since the 1100s and, in 1566, Mary, Queen of Scots spent a night there. The fi rst Langton House, built in the 17th century, was the second largest in Berwickshire. In 1886 a new house was built which included 16 bedrooms, 9 WCs, walled gardens and a tennis court. In 1876 a giant redwood – which is still standing – was planted by William Gladstone. Sadly, the house was demolished in 1950.

3. Douglas Castle, Lanarkshire

Various castles housing the Douglas family have occupied this site since the 1300s; their history was Sir Walter Scott’s inspiration for his last novel, Castle Dangerous. In 1757 work began on a huge, castellated mansion, designed by the Adam brothers, though it was never fully completed. In the 1930s coal was mined in a nearby park to alleviate local unemployment. Unfortunately this caused severe subsidence, leading to the castle being demolished in 1938.

4. Crawford Priory Fife

Lying about 3 miles from Cupar, the house, which was not really a priory, was built in 1758 by the Earl of Crawford. It was rebuilt in 1809 to the designs of David Hamilton, and in 1811 James Gillespie Graham extended the property in ecclesiastical gothic style, giving it the look of a priory. Tragically, the house – which was once described as ‘perhaps the most important gothic priory house in Scotland’ – became too costly to run, leading parts of it to be closed off. Crawford Priory was abandoned entirely in 1971 and left to rot.

5. Dupplin Castle, Perthshire

Dupplin Castle was a mansion house in Strathearn, about fi ve miles from Perth. It was actually the third Dupplin Castle, and was built by the Earls of Kinnoull to replace an earlier castle that was destroyed by fi re in 1827. The house was designed by William Burn and cost around £30,000. In 1911 the house was bought by whisky baron John Dewar, who was enobled 1st Baron Forteviot in 1916. The spot must be jinxed, because the castle was again gutted by fi re in 1934, and was demolished in 1967

6. Alloa House, Clackmannanshire

Alloa House was the 17th century addition to Alloa Tower – the ancestral home of the Earls of Mar since the 15th century. When Clackmannan County Cricket Club wasfounded in 1868, the Earl of Mar and Kellie gave the club permission to play on the lawn in front of Alloa House and to use part of Alloa Tower as a clubhouse. Alloa House was destroyed by fi re in 1800 – but the robustlybuilt tower survived and is now a museum which is open to the public.

7. Panmure House, Angus

In 1666 the 2nd Earl of Panmure contracted master mason John Milne to design a new house on his estate in Angus, which was completed in 1686. The whole estate was forfeited by the 4th Earl after the Jacobite uprising in 1715, although it remained in the family when it was passed to the Earls of Dalhousie. Fox Maule commissioned David Bryce to extend Panmure in the 1850s in the Scottish baronial style. The ‘big hoose’, as it was known, eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1955

8. Cavers House, Borders

The house, near Hawick, was built between 1750 and 1884 on the site of a castle that was inhabited by the Baliols in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1952 the house was gutted to help the post-war reconstruction. At the time, James Palmer Douglas, the 23rd laird, said: ‘I tried to sell it – at any price. I approached the Council and the Government. I asked my MP, I offered it to the National Trust, but nobody would take it.’

9. Dalquharran Castle, Ayrshire

Situated near the village of Dailly, the castle was built by Robert Adam in 1789-92 for his brother-in-law. In the early 1900s the castle was a youth hostel until the Second World War, when it became a school for the deaf. It was then sold to a merchant from Girvan who was forced to remove the roof to avoid paying increasingly prohibitive rates. Now all that remains is the masonry shell. However, plans are underway to redevelop the site into a luxury hotel and leisure complex, including a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

10. Loudoun Castle, Ayrshire

Built in the early 1800s for the Countess of Loudoun and Moira, at the time the castle – which had 90 rooms and a 10,000 volume library – was known as ‘the Windsor of Scotland’. Legend speaks of a secret tunnel running from the castle to Cessnock Castle, two kilometres away. In 1941 the fabric of the building was destroyed by fire, and the shell remains a category A listed building. In 1995 the site became an amusement park, which closed in 2010.