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29 October 2014
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Dunninald Castle
Dunninald Castle
Dunninald Castle, set in some of the most spectacular grounds in the area, is a classic example of late-style Scottish castle building. The heir to two previous castles on the site, both it and its gardens are well worth a visit.

The first castle here was erected in the 15th century, as a fortified house for the Gray family, the same Grays who would go on to sack Red Castle the following century. At that time the building was known as Black Jack's Castle.

It was the Greys who ordered the building of a second Dunninald, after they had been restored to their lands following a period of exile for their part in the Red Castle affair. Shortly after, around 1600, the Greys sold up and moved to England.

Dunninald Castle
Dunninald Castle

The next owners of the castle, the Leightons, were equally no strangers to controversy, with Patrick Leighton being accused of robbery by another Montrose merchant after a business deal turned sour in the street. Unfortunately, the court records do not survive, so we are unable to know for sure how this little imbroglio ended.

The castle remained in its 16th Century form, passing through several owners, until the early 19th Century, when new owner Peter Arkley, commissioned the up and coming young architect James Gillespie Graham to build a new castle. Graham is known as the leading light of the Scottish Gothic style of architecture, and was responsible for some notable buildings throughout the country - including St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh and the dining room at Hopetoun House.

The Graham building, although scaled back from his original grandiose plans, sits beautifully with the gardens, which were laid in 1740. Dunninald is a family home, open to the public at advertised times throughout the year.


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