Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

ABERUCHILL CASTLEGDL00004

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
01/07/1987
Local Authority
Perth And Kinross
Parish
Comrie
NGR
NN 75173 20998
Coordinates
275173, 720998

A 19th century designed landscape with historical connections to the Scottish plant hunters. The parkland and woodland makes a major contribution to the surrounding scenery and provides the setting for a category A listed building.

Type of Site

A distinctive parkland landscape with specimen trees, clumps and policy woodlands with later additions of walks around the walled garden and shrubbery past burn, waterfall, rock slabs and rustic style bridge to a 20th century rock garden.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mainly mid-19th-century (c1812) with remnants from the mid-18th-century and additions and improvements in the early 20th century (1918-21)

Importance of Site

A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.

Work of Art

Value
Some

There are no known designers of the landscape at Aberuchill, but the layout of the parks and woodlands put in by Sir David Dundas gives it some value as a Work of Art.

Historical

Value
High

There are associations with several families and personalities over the centuries at Aberuchill but the several changes of ownership have led to the loss of many of the estate records, giving it high rather than outstanding value in this category.

Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural

Value
Some

There used to be an interesting plant collection at Aberuchill, however, little of this remains today. It therefore has some value for its place in the history of horticulture.

Architectural

Value
Outstanding

The designed landscape provides the setting for an A listed building and has outstanding Architectural value.

Scenic

Value
Outstanding

The policy woodlands are very attractively planted and make an outstanding contribution to the surrounding scenery.

Nature Conservation

Value
High

The variety of habitats provided within the estate gives Aberuchill high value in this category.

Archaeological

Value
Not Assessed

Location and Setting

Aberuchill Castle is set above a secluded valley in the Aberuchill Hills above Strathearn and 1.5 miles (2.5km) west of Comrie. The site is bounded by the foothills of Mor Bheinn 2,100' (640m) and Ben Halton 2,034' (620m) to the west and south, by policy woodlands to the east, and by a minor road linking with the A85 to Comrie to the north. The Castle lies within the River Earn National Scenic Area and has extensive views eastwards over Strathearn. The surrounding hills provide a beautiful setting for the Castle. The policy woodlands are visible from the roads to the north but the Castle itself is very much secluded from view.

The Castle is set on a high terrace facing northwards across the park; it lies above the Aberuchill Burn which flows through the policies to join the River Earn to the north. General Roy's map of 1750 shows a small area of planted land enclosing the Castle, but no designed landscape at that date. By the 1st edition OS of 1866, the parkland was laid out in the form that remains today, with a distinctively large number of small clumps of trees in the parks. These are shown in early photographs of the estate but some of the roundels have since been lost. There are no design or estate plans at Aberuchill Castle today to give evidence of the designers involved. There are 779 acres (315ha) in the designed landscape.

Site History

The designed landscape at Aberuchill was laid out in the 19th century and has remained similar in layout since then. The rock garden was put in by the Dewhurst family between 1918-21.

The lands of Aberuchill were granted in 1596 to a son of Sir Colin Campbell of Lawers who built the oldest part of the Castle by 1602. The estate was next acquired by Sir James Drummond in 1642 whose descendants carried out some improvements to the house. Aberuchill stayed in the Drummond family's ownership until 1858 when it was sold to Sir David Dundas of Dunira who is thought to have been responsible for planting the boundary hedges and many of the parkland trees. In 1864, he sold Aberuchill to Sir George Dewhurst who added the west wing and greatly embellished the gardens. His descendants remained at Aberuchill until the 1980s when the estate was sold to the present owner.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Aberuchill Castle, listed A, has an original late 16th century tower, with angle-turrets on the south-west, south-east and north-east corners, with additions of an east wing in 1806 and a west wing in 1874. The south front porch was added in 1869. The walled garden to the south-west of the Castle is listed C and has a sundial mounted above a gate arch. There are also some interesting estate cottages and stables to the south-east of the Castle.

Parkland

The parks extend all round the Castle where the land is sufficiently flat and low-lying. The hillsides rise steeply up from the parkland and are clothed on their lower slopes with attractively planted policy woodlands. There are still many individual parkland trees and a few of the many clumps survive; varieties include oak, lime, sycamore, larch and elm. There is a broad lime avenue extending eastwards from the Castle which contains some trees which appear to date back to c.1750 although the avenue itself does not feature on Roy's map. The north-east drive curves past the east end of the avenue and on up to the Castle; it affords glimpses of the Castle along the approach. The drives are planted alongside with daffodils and the roadside edges of the park are lined with beech hedges.

Woodland

The policy woodlands are composed of a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees planted with sensitivity to the landform and to their effect on the landscape. Ross Wood to the east of the Castle is now mainly coniferous and all the woods are managed commercially and used for pheasant rearing. There are some areas of older oak woods and other varieties include beech, sycamore, Scots pine and larch.

The Gardens

George Dewhurst had many paths made within the policies, particularly around the walled garden and shrubbery area. A walk is shown on the 1866 map leading up the valley of the Aberuchill Burn. An attractive waterfall in the burn flows over the green metamorphosed rock slabs of the river-bed, and the burn is crossed by a rustic- style bridge which is now in disrepair. There are many young birch in the glen but some of the older trees have suffered from wind- blow. Near the rustic bridge is the Rock Garden which, despite not having been managed for several years, still retains some interesting plants and its structure is intact.

A path leads from the Rock Garden to the Shrubbery around the walled garden, where the bank is covered with open lawn planted up with ornamental shrubs and trees, including the handkerchief tree Davidia involucrata, the cut-leaf Japanese maple Acer palmatumdissectum, magnolias and a young tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera. There are some older yew trees near the walled garden.

Walled Gardens

There are some interesting wrought-iron gates leading to the garden; the east gate was brought from Italy in 1910. An old sundial is mounted above the gate arch. Within the garden there are still box-edged beds, well trimmed grassed borders and gravel paths. At one time it was planted entirely as an ornamental garden and it contained some rare plants including some Himalayan blue poppies Meconposis propagated by the Dewhursts from seed brought back from Himalayan expeditions in the 1920s. The herbaceous borders were laid out in scroll bedding, and some areas were designed in a paisley pattern. There are some old yew remaining in the centre of the garden and rose beds extend along the north/south path. The garden is now mainly planted up with fruit and vegetables. A new glasshouse within the garden has replaced the old range which included an alpine house.

References

Bibliography

Sources

Printed Sources

NSA v 10 p.585

History of Aberuchill, 1985, D. Menzies

GC i 1930, 494-5, ii 1937, 135

The Garden 1917, 544-5

Listings

NMRS Photographs

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries about development proposals, such as those requiring planning permission, on or around inventory sites should be made to the planning authority. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications of this type.

Find out more about the inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

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Printed: 15/11/2018 13:32