Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

ARMADALE CASTLEGDL00028

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
01/07/1987
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Sleat
NGR
NG 63657 4498
Coordinates
163657, 804498

The gardens, woodland and architectural features provide a major contribution to the scenery of the Isle of Skye. Armadale Castle has a long historical association with Clan Donald.

Type of Site

A woodland garden begun in the early 1800s and embellished with specimen trees in the 1870s.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Early 1800s with improvements in the late 19th century (1870s).

Artistic Interest

Level of interest
Some

The layout of the gardens and arboretum at Armadale gives it some value as a Work of Art in its present form.

Historical

Level of interest
Outstanding

The associations with the Clan Donald over many centuries and the existence of some Historical records at Armadale give it outstanding value in this category.

Horticultural

Level of interest
High

The existence of records of an early arboretum, replanted in the 1870s and currently being replanted, gives it high Horticultural value.

Architectural

Level of interest
Outstanding

Despite the derelict condition of the Castle, the designed landscape provides the setting for the A listed Stable-block and other interesting Architectural features such as the Bridge and the Laundry. The design for the stables won 'The Regeneration of Scotland' Award for Architecture in 1985.

Archaeological

Level of interest
Not Assessed

Scenic

Level of interest
Outstanding

The policy woodlands and stable buildings are visible from the main road and from the sea, and provide a striking contrast with the moorland scenery of most of the island.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest
High

There are two SSSI's on the estate but these lie outwith the policies. The woodland and coastal habitats give the site high value for Nature Conservation.

Location and Setting

Armadale Castle is situated on the south-east coast of Skye about a mile north of the ferry terminal at Armadale Pier for ferries to and from the mainland at Mallaig. The Castle is situated above the coast road, and faces south-east across the Sound of Sleat. The site is bounded by the village of Ardvasar at its south end, and by the coast road along its eastern boundary up to the Mill Burn, Allt a' Mhuilinn, in the north. The policy woodlands form the western boundary and shelter the Castle, farm buildings and enclosed fields. The underlying rocks are very old, metamorphic rocks with later igneous dyke intrusions, and the soils are acid. The climate is mild for its latitude (the same as Leningrad) and the annual rainfall of 60" is slightly less than most of Skye receives. The views across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland hills are important to the setting. The stables and woodlands are significant in the view from the coast road.

The Castle was built on its present site to take advantage of the magnificent views out to the south and east across the Sound of Sleat. The lawn in front of the Castle was levelled to open out the views from the Castle. The extent of the designed landscape has remained the same since the 1st edition OS map in c.1865. Ostaig House, immediately to the north of the policies, is the Dower House for the Macdonald family. A garden plan of 1811 before the building of the 1815 Castle shows that the kitchen garden was moved further to the west at the time the Castle was built. Shortly afterwards in 1823 the course of the coastal road was moved closer to the shore. Otherwise the structure of the design and the woodland shelterbelts has remained the same over the years, although much of the woodlands have been replanted. There are about 285 acres (115ha) in the designed landscape today.

Site History

The Clan Donald can trace their associations with Skye to the early 15th century. The first record of a house at Armadale was in 1690 when it was burned down in reprisal for the Macdonald support of the Jacobite cause. This earlier house is thought to have been sited further west than the present Castle. The Macdonald lands were forfeited in the early 18th century but restored to the laird's grandson, Alexander, in 1727, and the Factor, Hugh Macdonald, lived on the estate while the laird lived at Duntulm. Hugh Macdonald married the mother of Flora Macdonald and Flora visited them at Armadale after smuggling Prince Charles to Portree on Skye. In 1750 she married the Macdonald of Kingsburgh's son at Armadale. In 1766, Alexander Macdonald died and was succeeded by his son Alexander, 1st Baron of Macdonald, who was then succeeded by his son Alexander in 1795. It was he who undertook the improvement of the estate, and in 1815 James Gillespie Graham was commissioned to design a new Castle, built onto the existing mansion house, and facing south-east across the Sound of Sleat. The area in front of the new building was levelled to enhance the fine views across to the mainland. After a fire in the central part of the mansion house in 1850, David Bryce was commissioned to extend the Castle for Godfrey the 4th Baron.

In 1925 the 6th Baron moved to the former Dower House at Ostaig House, and eventually the Castle was put on the market in 1972 when it was purchased by the Clan Donald Lands Trust. By this time the west part of the Castle was derelict and in 1981 it was demolished; remnants were saved, and the Bryce part of the Castle, although empty, has been saved with a view to future restoration. A new formal garden was designed by Lauries of Dundee in the former west end of the Castle, and work began on clearing the grounds around the house. In 1984 the Stables were converted into a Visitor Arrival Building for the Clan Centre. The Dowager Lady Macdonald has retained the ownership of the Garden Cottage.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Armadale Castle, listed C, is partially derelict: the west section, designed by James Gillespie Graham, has now been demolished; the middle section, designed by David Bryce, awaits restoration; and the oldest, north section has been converted to house a museum and audio-visual display. The Stables date from 1820, the Gillespie Graham period, and are listed A; in 1984 they were converted to form a Visitor Centre by the Boys Jarvis Partnership. The Bridge, listed B, was built in 1825 and the building was supervised by John Sinclair. The Home Farm was restored in 1891 by John Mackenzie and is listed B. Ardvasar, the former Porter's Lodge is an early 19th century octagonal building, listed B. The Laundry dates from 1820 and is in poor condition; it is listed C. A well, a keepers cottage and kennels also exist.

The Gardens

In the centre of the former west end of the Castle is a new formal garden originally designed by Lauries of Dundee but improved by the Estate Head Gardener, Mr T. Godfrey, with slate-edged beds containing herbaceous plant material.

Walled Gardens

The walled garden was constructed in the early 19th century when the former kitchen garden was used for the siting of a new castle. It is walled on the north and west sides only and fenced on its south side. It had lain derelict for many years until the 1970s when it was restored; it is currently rather overgrown. There were glasshouses at one time, but they have since been lost. It is now in the ownership of the Trust and restoration is scheduled for 1987.

References

Bibliography

Sources

Printed Sources

Information Leaflets, Clan Donald Centre

Duncan MacInnes, 1984, Clan Donald Lands Trust,

Interpretive Plan

Homes and Gardens 1984

Estate Plans at Armadale

A. Mitchell, Tree Survey 1978

Groome's

Listings

NMRS, Photographs

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

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Images

ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE
ARMADALE CASTLE

Printed: 19/09/2019 08:12