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A Picture of Elegance – Drumlanrig Castle

Situated on the stunning Queensberry Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, is the ever so gorgeous Drumlanrig Castle. It is a Douglas stronghold and the home of the Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. It is often described as a picture of elegance due to being a pink sandstone turreted castle situated in an ideal setting.

With gorgeous paintings, a collection of unique French furniture, specific carvings, and a mysterious history, it is certainly an interesting castle.

Scenic shot of drumlanrig castle
Drumlanrig Castle is situated on the Queensberry Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Source: Flickr.

The history of Drumlanrig Castle

Though this magnificent baronial mansion doesn’t have a lot of known history, it is still a very popular point of interest in Scotland. Perhaps this is due to its fascinating interior or expansive parkland surrounding the castle. People even flock from miles away to enjoy a walk through the gardens that are nestled within hills.

No matter what, Drumlanrig Castle is a gorgeous example of times before ours that is set in a move-like area. Let’s take a deeper glimpse into its limited history to learn more and enjoy this amazing castle.

The early history

When a century had passed after king Robert the Bruce’s death, the Douglas family were in control of the lands in Nithsdale. It is here that they built a strong and effective fortress. Though this wasn’t the original castle, this medieval castle forms the basis of the stunning mansion we see in the current day.

The newer Drumlanrig Castle was constructed between the years 1679 and 1689. It was created with distinctive pink sandstone and is one of the best examples of late 17th century Renaissance architecture. The first Duke of Queensberry, known as William Douglas, had the castle built on the site of the old stronghold, seemingly to make use of what remained. The castle has 120 rooms as well as 17 turrets, and four towers.

Portrait of William Douglas
William Douglas, 1st Duke of Queensbury. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

As centuries pass

Over the centuries, the Douglas family merged with two other well-known and noble Scottish families known as the Buccleuch and Montagu families. Bonnie Prince Charlie, who stayed in the castle on his retreat in December of 1745 left a large collection of his memorabilia behind. Though there is little history in this time, the next known history of the castle is from 1984.

In 1984, an aerial photograph revealed an outline of the remains of a substantial Roman fort that existed around 350 yards to the southeast of Drumlanrig Castle. In 2004, the fort was only partially excavated by the Time Team television programme.

Portrait of bonnie prince charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The current day

In current times, the castle provides a rather fascinating look at the fortunes of the three noble families who became one. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about the castle is its large and exquisite collection of fine art which includes a stunning chandelier that weighs near 200 pounds. Within the castle walls, you will see fine French furniture, porcelain and needlework, and even a piece said to have been created by Mary, Queen of Scots.

Perhaps the most famous artwork is that of Rembrandt who created a simple painting of a cowled woman whose face was lined with age. In the painting, she is bending her head inquisitively towards a book that she is grasping in both hands. This painting is named ‘An Old Woman Reading’. These days, the fairy-tale castle featured its trademark bristles, turrets, and domes. The new castle follows the exact floor plan that the medieval castle once did, and the only addition was a courtyard.

You may also enjoy reading about other Scottish castles such as Glamis Castle.

Drumlanrig Castle Timeline

  • 1679- The construction of the castle begins
  • 1689- The castle is finally complete
  • 1745- Bonnie Prince Charlie stays in the castle on a retreat and leaves a large amount of memorabilia behind
  • 1984- An aerial photograph reveals an outline of the remains of a substantial roman for around 350 yards away from the castle
  • 2004- The fort is partially excavated by the Time Team television program

Facts about Drumlanrig Castle

  • Drumlanrig Castle is situated on 90,000 acres on the Queensberry Estate
  • The castle is a category A listed building
  • It is often referred to as the ‘Pink Palace’
  • It is built on the grounds of an ancient Douglas stronghold overlooking the Nith Valley
  • The castle houses the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci known as Madonna of the Yarnwinder
  • The painting by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen in 2003 and returned in 2007 after being found in Glasgow

Featured in TV and Film

  • The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)
  • Time Team (2005)

Books on Drumlanrig Castle

  • Drumlanrig Castle and the Douglases by Craufurd Tate Ramage (1876)
  • Once There Were Castles by Larry Millett (2011)
  • Drumlanrig: The Castle, its People and its Paintings by Richard Buccleuch (2016)
  • World’s Most Beautiful Castles by Jasmina Trifoni (2018)

Who owns Drumlanrig Castle?

These days, Drumlanrig Castle is still owned by the Montagu-Douglas-Scott Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry as well as with Branxholme, Bowhill and Dalkeith Palace. There are many titles such as Marquess of Dumfriesshire, Earl of Drumlanrig, Buccleuch, Sanquhar and Dalkeith, and Viscount Nith, Torthorwald and Ross.

Tourism

You can go on one of many Drumlanrig Castle walks these days. There are many ways you can explore the estate on foot with easy paths and more strenuous ones around. The numerous trails to choose from range from 1.5 to 7km following many well-marked paths. There are trails to suit all abilities so everyone can get out and enjoy a walk. You can also hire bikes and trailers to enjoy your adventures.

You can also discover the estate’s rugged landscapes and the flora and fauna. If you keep an eye out, you may spot squirrels, otters, and even some birds who are hiding in the estate’s impressive collection of trees. You may even be able to see the Drumlanrig Sycamore which is said to be one of the oldest in the country. Adults can sit back and relax while the kids explore the slides, rope bridges, and climbing frames in the estate’s adventure playground.

After all is said and done, there is a lovely Tearoom to sit in, a Gift Shop to browse in, or the Stable Studios where you can find some interesting oddities. If you plan to stay for a few days, there are trails, forests, museums and grand buildings to explore nearby.

More Images

  • garden view of drumlanrig castle

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