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Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

INVERCAULDReference: GDL00224

Status: Designated


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  • Category: N/A
  • Date Added: 01/07/1987


  • Local Authority: Aberdeenshire
  • Parish: Crathie And Braemar

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNO 17394 92704
  • Coordinates317394, 792704


Long associated with the Farquharson family, this large 18th century designed landscape makes a major contribution to the scenery of the Dee Valley.

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


The design and layout of the parks in the past and today give Invercauld high value as a Work ofArt.



Invercauld has been the home of the Farquharson family from the 16th century and has had a large designed landscape since the early 18th century. It has outstanding Historical value.

Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural


The early and much recorded woodland planting at Invercauld gives it high value in this category.



The designed landscape provides the setting for Invercauld House which is listed B, giving it high

value in this category.



The parkland and woodlands of Invercauld make a major contribution to the naturally beautiful surroundings of the Dee Valley.

Nature Conservation


The policies contain a variety of habitats and have high Nature Conservation value.

Location and Setting

Invercauld is situated in the Dee Valley some 12.5 miles (20km) west of Ballater and 4 miles (6.5km) north-east of Braemar. It is sheltered to the north and south by the high hills of the Grampians and the River Dee meanders through the broad valley of Braemar. The underlying geology is of granite and limestone, and above the wooded lower slopes are extensive tracts of moor and mountain. The house is situated at c.1100' (335m) above sea-level and the climate here is severe in winter with some of the lowest recorded temperatures in recent years. The house commands extensive and splendid views of the Dee Valley and the Grampian Mountains. The house is conspicuous in the view from the summit of Lochnagar and the parkland is very visible from the A93 to Braemar.

The extent of the designed landscape has remained similar since the 18th century according to available map evidence and extends from Inverchandlich Cottage in the west, to East Lodge near the old Bridge of Dee in the east. The policies extend south of the river to Braemar Castle in the west, although this area belonged to the Earl of Mar's neighbouring estate until 1715.

While the extent of the design has remained similar over the years, the layout has changed. A wall map of c.1750 at the house shows a formal design for the policies, with paths radiating through the parks from the house down to the river and continuing on the opposite side of the river and up through the wooded slopes towards the Lion's Face Rock. Serpentine paths wind through the parks and to the north of the house. A kitchen garden is shown to the south- east of the house and so are two ponds.

General Roy's plan of 1750 shows that a simplified form of this plan was actually laid out regardless of the local topography, which rises steeply to the south of the river. The 1st edition OS map of 1869 shows woodland plantations to the north of the house, but shows the woodlands to the south as unenclosed. A pond is shown to the south-east of the house as marked on the 1753 map.

By 1869 the landscape design has been changed from formal to informal, with clumps and roundels of trees in the parks and many individual parkland trees as well. A large lozenge-shaped formal garden is shown to the west of the house subdivided into two along its west/east axis with a glasshouse on the north wall. A summerhouse is shown to the north-east of the house and there were several cottages in the policies, including Balnagower Cottage to the north of the Invercauld Monument. By the time of the 2nd edition OS map of c.1910 the pond to the south of the house is shown as a marshy area and the lozenge-shaped garden has disappeared. A smaller rectangular garden is shown to the west of the house in its place. There are 1,423 acres (576ha) in the designed landscape today.

Site History

The Farquharsons of Invercauld are the descendants of the Clan Chattan who settled on the banks of the Dee in around 1371. The Farquhar from whom they derive their name was made Bailie and Chamberlain of Mar by Robert II. The estate was passed on through generations of the family and through notoriously warfaring times. In 1679 a new house was built and additions were made by William and Francis Gordon. The Braemar estate was bought into Invercauld by John Farquharson the 9th Laird. It had belonged to the Earl of Mar until after the 1715 rising when it was attainted. It was subsequently purchased from the Government by Lord Dun and Lord Grange, both of them Erskines and kinsmen of the Earl of Mar, and they sold it to John Farquharson in 1732. The Farquharsons had also supported the Jacobite cause in 1715, but the 9th Laird refused to support the 1745 and his lands were plundered by the Jacobite army. In 1748 he leased Braemar Castle to the Government on a 99-year lease. The repairs and reconstruction undertaken on behalf of the Government were carried out by John Adam.

The 10th Laird, James, inherited in 1750 and altered and enlarged Invercauld House (architect unknown) and carried out many improvements to his estates. In 1792 he was presented with a medal for planting some 14 million trees up to that date. By the time he died in 1805 he had planted 19 million trees on his 135,000 acre estates. His daughter Catherine succeeded him; she had married James Ross, second son of Admiral Lockhart Ross of Balnagown. Additions were made to the house in 1820 and 1847, and the picturesque clumps of trees in the parks were put in during her lifetime. She was succeeded in 1862 by her son James Ross Farquharson, as 12th Laird, and he was responsible for restoring Braemar Castle to be lived in as a family home. Further additions were made to Invercauld House in 1875 in the Baronial style by J.T. Wimperis, a London architect. The present laird, Captain Alwynne Compton Farquharson, succeeded his aunt as 16th Laird of Invercauld.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Invercauld House is a large mid-18th century Baronial residence with additions in 1820, 1847, 1875 and 1890. It is three storeys in height, with a castellated tower rising to 70', and is listed B.

Keiloch Cottage built in 1820 is listed C. Old Invercauld Bridge built in 1753 and now closed, is listed A. Alltdourie Cottage is listed B. Other architectural features in the policies include the Stables, Game Larder, the Ice House, the Kennels, Balnagower Cottage, Invercauld Monument and Clunie Cottage. There is also a small rustic Summerhouse or fog-house, with a moss roof, along the woodland ride to the north of the house.


A sketch of Invercauld in 1810 shows fine individual deciduous parkland trees in the parks south of the house down to the river. Many of these have since gone, but there are distinctive clumps of trees in the park today which are very visible from the main A93 road to the south of the river. These are mainly planted up with larch, the tree for which Invercauld was famous in the 18th century. The house is set on a broad terrace above the park, below which there are the outlines of a square enclosure, possibly a former garden layout. A very long and attractive drive approaches the house from the East Lodge, past the nursery and the pond shown on the 1st edition OS map. There are many tracks and rides through the woodlands to the north of the house, some of which would have been used as woodland drives. Lady Carr's Drive is planted with an avenue of Purple Beech. The parks are grazed today with Highland Cattle and sheep.


The policy woodlands are mainly copses of birch, and plantations of larch and Scots pine. There are planted roundels, avenues and individual trees in the parks, and extensive tracks of commercial plantations through the estate. Some of the Scots Pines are thought to be 3-400 years old. The Forest of Mar was famous in the past and the woods have been described many times in historical accounts; in one, as 'the woods are at the same time grand, gloomy and beautiful'. Much replanting has been undertaken since the severe gale damage of 1953.

Walled Gardens

To the west of the woodland garden is the kitchen garden which is divided into compartments used mainly for growing vegetables and fruit. Fine herbaceous borders extend along one of the dividing paths with trellis lining the borders. There is a central flower bed with a sundial.




Printed Sources

Braemar Castle Guidebook, London

Castellated Architecture of Aberdeenshire, 1849

Royal Deeside article

18th century design for the Estate at Invercauld




About Designations

Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

We compile, maintain and publish an Inventory (a list) of gardens and designed landscapes of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. We assess sites for Inventory status against criteria published in the Scottish Historic Environment Policy, Annex 5, pp81-82.

The information provided gives an indication of the significance of the site. The Inventory record is not a definitive account or a complete description of the garden and/or designed landscape. The format of the Inventory record has changed over time. Earlier, un-amended records may not be current.

Enquiries relating to development proposals that may affect an Inventory site should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Local authorities consult us on proposals that they consider might affect an Inventory site or its setting, but they are not bound by our advice and remain responsible for making the final decision about a development proposal.

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