Blair Atholl Post Office
|OS grid reference|
|• Edinburgh||61.5 mi (99 km)|
|• London||393 mi (632 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Blair Atholl (from the Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Athall, originally Blàr Ath Fhodla) is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built about the confluence of the Rivers Tilt and Garry in one of the few areas of flat land in the midst of the Grampian Mountains. The Gaelic place-name Blair, from blàr, 'field, plain', refers to this location. Atholl, which means 'new Ireland', from the archaic Ath Fhodla is the name of the surrounding district.
On 13 March 2008, it was announced that Blair Atholl (together with some other Highland Perthshire villages) would be included in the Cairngorms National Park. This change was made at the request of the people of the town.
Blair Atholl's most famous feature is Blair Castle (NN 865 662), one of Scotland's premier stately homes, and the last castle in the British Isles to be besieged, in 1746 during the last Jacobite rising. The Castle was the traditional home of the Earls (later Marquesses, now Dukes) of Atholl. The Duke of Atholl is the only person in the United Kingdom allowed to raise a private army. This army, known as the Atholl Highlanders, conducts largely social and ceremonial activities, and primarily consists of workers on the extensive Atholl Estates.
The Castle no longer belongs directly to the Duke of Atholl, as the 10th Duke, George Iain Murray (1931–96), left the Castle in trust upon his death. His distant cousin the 11th Duke, John Murray (1929–2012), lived in South Africa, and visited annually to review the Atholl Highlanders. The oldest part of Blair Castle, known as Comyn's (or Cumming's) Tower, a small tower-house with immensely thick walls, is claimed (perhaps dubiously) to date from as early as the 13th century. The majority of the Castle is 16th century in date, though much altered. After the siege referred to above, the upper storey and battlements of the ancient Castle were removed to render it indefensible. A medieval appearance becoming fashionable again during the 19th century, the Castle, which had become known as Atholl House, was raised in height and adorned with battlements once more. The many alterations in the fabric are largely concealed by the white harling (roughcast) on the walls. The collections of furniture, paintings, historical relics, weapons, embroidery, china, Highland artefacts and hunting trophies preserved in the Castle are among the finest in Scotland, as is the plasterwork and other décor of the principal rooms. Thirty-two rooms are open to the public, more than in any comparable stately home.
The Castle sits in extensive grounds, which the Dukes of Atholl have altered and added to over several centuries. Notable among the features are Diana's Grove and the Hercules Garden, both laid out in the first half of the 18th century, and rare examples of their period. Both are adorned with lead reproductions of Classical statues. The Dukes of Atholl were early and enthusiastic tree planters, and Diana's Grove contains some of the tallest trees in Great Britain. The Hercules Garden, recently restored, is a rare survival of a walled formal garden with an artificial lake and islands, surrounded by plantations of fruit trees. There are several other follies, bridges etc. of various periods.
Also within the Castle grounds is the hamlet and former parish church of Old Blair (NN 867 666), the original focus of settlement in the area before the present village, which was laid out from the first half of the 19th century. The church was dedicated to St Bride and is a probable early Christian site. John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, 'Bonnie Dundee' was buried in the aisle attached to the now roofless church after the Battle of Killiecrankie, 27 July 1689. The modern railed burial enclosure of the family of the Dukes adjoins the ancient unenclosed churchyard. In the Middle Ages the main road from Atholl to Badenoch, and hence to the north of Scotland, passed through this village and the Minigaig Pass.
In 1946 the first Blair Atholl International Scout Jamborette was held within the castle grounds. This Scout Camp has been held every two years since, with Scouts from across the globe in attendance. The camp was the idea of Jack Stewart, International Commissioner for Scotland before and after the 1939/1945 war, who proposed a smaller international camp than a World Jamboree – a Jamborette. John Kennedy, the Camp Chief from 1998 to 2010, passed over the role to Andrew Sharkey for the camp in 2012.
Built in 1820 as a private hunting lodge by John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl, the Atholl Arms Hotel and its estate was owned for most of the 20th century by the Stewart~MacKay family (the second-largest employers in Highland Perthshire after the Duke of Atholl). Latterly it was owned by local Conservative politician John 'Jock' Stewart MacKay MBE of nearby Killicrankie, who sold it in 1981.
On 13 March 2008, Blair Atholl won the appeal to be in the Cairngorms National Park, making it likely Blair Castle will become a more popular attraction.
Until the early 19th century the only building on the site of the present village was the Old Mill (open to the public in summer). It began to grow around the present parish church, largely as a planned settlement, when this was moved from Old Blair. The building of the main A9 North Road and railway line to Inverness encouraged the growth of the village, though the A9 has bypassed it since the 1980s.
The Atholl Country Life Museum in the village has displays on the social history of the area. It is open in the summer, with an entrance charge.
A peculiar quirk of the town is ownership of the water supply. As a result of an unusual legal agreement made in 1911 for the benefit of steam trains, the responsibility for the public water supply to the people of Blair Atholl has been held by the railway companies who own the line through Blair Atholl, currently Network Rail. In April 2006, it was announced that Network Rail would finance the cost of connecting the Blair Atholl and Bridge of Tilt (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid Theilt) to Scottish Water's supply.
A scale model of the area of the village around the railway station can be viewed at http://www.blairatholl-drumochter.co.uk
The town is bypassed by the A9 and has a railway station on the Highland Main Line. The main road north from Perth to Inverness ran through the village until it was bypassed in 1984.
Since its inception in 1946, Blair Atholl Patrol Jamborette has taken place every two years in the grounds of Blair Castle. Scotland's largest regular Scout Camp is usually attended by around 1,200 participants, half Scottish Scouts, and half Internationals, from countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Malawi, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA. The camp is divided into six sub-camps: MacDonald, Maclean, Murray, Morrison, Robertson and Stewart. The 2010 camp saw John Kennedy retire as the camp chief, after 12 years in the role, handing over to Andrew Sharkey who led the next Jamborette in 2012. In recognition of Kennedy's outstanding services, Eleanor Lyall, the Chief Commissioner for Scotland, presented him with the Silver Wolf, the highest award in adult Scouting. The Jamborette of 2020 is cancelled, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Perth and Kinross is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland and a Lieutenancy Area. It borders onto the Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Fife, Highland and Stirling council areas. Perth is the administrative centre. With the exception of a large area of south-western Perthshire, the council area mostly corresponds to the historic counties of Perthshire and Kinross-shire.
Duke of Atholl, alternatively Duke of Athole, named after Atholl in Scotland, is a title in the Peerage of Scotland held by the head of Clan Murray. It was created by Queen Anne in 1703 for John Murray, 2nd Marquess of Atholl, with a special remainder to the heir male of his father, the 1st Marquess.
Atholl or Athole is a large historical division in the Scottish Highlands, bordering Marr, Badenoch, Lochaber, Breadalbane, Strathearn, Perth, and Gowrie. Today it forms the northern part of Perth and Kinross, Scotland.
Pitlochry is a burgh in the county of Perthshire in Scotland, lying on the River Tummel. It is administered as part of the council area of Perth and Kinross, and has a population of 2,776, according to the 2011 census.
Blairgowrie and Rattray is a twin burgh in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Locals refer to the town as "Blair". Blairgowrie is the larger of the two former burghs which were united by an Act of Parliament in 1928 and lies on the southwest side of the River Ericht while Rattray is on the northeast side. Rattray claims to be the older and certainly Old Rattray, the area round Rattray Kirk, dates back to the 12th century. New Rattray, the area along the Boat Brae and Balmoral Road dates from 1777 when the River was spanned by the Brig o' Blair. The town lies on the north side of Strathmore at the foot of the Grampian Mountains. The west boundary is formed by the Knockie, a round grassy hill, and Craighall Gorge on the Ericht. Blairgowrie and Rattray developed over the centuries at the crossroads of several historic routes with links from the town to Perth, Coupar Angus, Alyth and Braemar. The roads to Coupar Angus and Braemar form part of General Wade's military road from Perth to Fort George. The town's centrepiece is the Wellmeadow, a grassy triangle in the middle of town which hosts regular markets and outdoor entertainment.
The Mormaer or Earl of Atholl was the title of the holder of a medieval comital lordship straddling the highland province of Atholl, now in northern Perthshire. Atholl is a special Mormaerdom, because a King of Atholl is reported from the Pictish period. The only other two Pictish kingdoms to be known from contemporary sources are Fortriu and Circinn. Indeed, the early 13th century document known to modern scholars as the de Situ Albanie repeats the claim that Atholl was an ancient Pictish kingdom. In the 11th century, the famous Crínán of Dunkeld may have performed the role of Mormaer.
John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl was a South African-born hereditary peer of the Peerage of Scotland, hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Murray, and Colonel-in-Chief of the Atholl Highlanders. As Duke of Atholl, he commanded the only legal private army in Europe. He acceded as the 11th duke on February 27, 1996, succeeding his second cousin, once removed, Iain Murray, the 10th duke.
The Atholl Highlanders is a Scottish ceremonial infantry regiment. They are the only remaining private army in Europe, and act as the personal bodyguard to the Duke of Atholl - Chief of the Clan Murray, a family that has thrived in Perthshire for some 750 years. Although it has no military role, this hand-picked body of local men are armed with Lee Metford rifles and the regiment includes a pipe band. Joining the Highlanders is by invitation only from the Duke, who specially selects people with ties to the estate or the local area.The regiment is not part of the British Army but under the command of the Duke of Atholl, and based in at Blair Castle, Blair Atholl. It is the only legal private army in Europe.
Blair Castle stands in its grounds near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire in Scotland. It is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl, though the current (12th) Duke, Bruce Murray, lives in South Africa. The castle stands in Glen Garry, and commands a strategic position on the main route through the central Scottish Highlands.
John George Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl,, styled Marquess of Tullibardine until 1917, was a Scottish soldier and Unionist politician.
John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl, KT, styled Marquess of Tullibardine between 1846 and 1864, was a Scottish peer.
Newtonmore is a village in the Highland council area of Scotland. The village is only a few miles from a location that is claimed to be the exact geographical centre of Scotland.
Dunkeld and Birnam is a community council area and UK Census locality in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, consisting of two villages on opposite banks of the River Tay: the historic cathedral "city" of Dunkeld on the north bank, and Birnam on the south bank. The two were first linked by a bridge built in 1809 by Thomas Telford. The two places lie close to the Highland Boundary Fault, which marks the geological boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands, and are frequently described as the "Gateway to the Highlands" due to their position on the main road and rail lines north. Dunkeld and Birnam share a railway station, Dunkeld & Birnam, on the Highland Main Line, and are about 24 kilometres (15 mi) north of Perth on what is now the A9 road.
Clan Murray is a Highland Scottish clan. The chief of the Clan Murray holds the title of Duke of Atholl. Their ancestors who established the family in Scotland in the 12th century were the Morays of Bothwell. In the 16th century descendants of the Morays of Bothwell, the Murrays of Tullibardine, secured the chiefship of the clan and were created Earls of Tullibardine in 1606. The first Earl of Tullibardine married the heiress to the Stewart earldom of Atholl and Atholl therefore became a Murray earldom in 1626. The Murray Earl of Atholl was created Marquess of Atholl in 1676 and in 1703 it became a dukedom. The marquess of Tullibardine title has continued as a subsidiary title, being bestowed on elder sons of the chief until they succeed him as Duke of Atholl.
For Menzies as a personal name, including its pronunciation and a list of famous people of that name, see Menzies.
Lochearnhead is a village on the A84 Stirling to Crianlarich road at the foot of Glen Ogle, 14 miles (23 km) north of the Highland Boundary Fault. It is situated at the western end of Loch Earn where the A85 road from Crieff meets the A84.
Stanley is a village on the north side of the River Tay in Perthshire, Scotland, around 6 miles (10 km) north of Perth.
Bridge of Tilt is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, built around the River Tilt, near its confluence with the River Garry. It is located 5.8 miles northwest of Pitlochry. The newer part of the village is continuous with Blair Atholl, only separated by the River Tilt. The village is located primarily on the B8079 between Pitlochry and Dunalastair Water, but the older part of the village is located further up the River Tilt. The A9 runs past the River Garry to the south of Bridge of Tilt, and connects the village with Newtonmore and Inverness in the north and Pitlochry, Perth and Stirling in the south.
The Siege of Blair Castle was a conflict that took place in Scotland in March 1746 and was part of the Jacobite rising of 1745. It was fought between Scottish forces loyal to the British-Hanoverian government of George II of Great Britain, which defended Blair Castle near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire, and Scottish Jacobite forces loyal to the House of Stuart.
Lady Evelyn Stewart Murray was a Scottish folklorist who collected Gaelic folk tales and songs. She was also a skilled needleworker and collector of embroidery and lace.
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