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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 18/03/1971


  • Local Authority: Highland
  • Planning Authority: Highland
  • Parish: Golspie

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNC 85049 820
  • Coordinates285049, 900820


Vast Baronial turretted mansion, mainly Sir Charles Barry,

1835-50, with subsequent repairs and alterations by Sir

Robert Lorimer, 1919, all encasing 14th century square

tower with abutting 17th century drum stair tower with

small pedimented windows; also further 17th century L-plan

tower house wing with angle turrets, and 1788-95 wing.

Mainly 3 storeys and attic.

Materials; 14th century tower and stair tower, rubble;

17th century range, harled to inner court, rendered to

outer faces; 18th century wing, rendered; 19th century

work, tooled ashlar with polished dressings, battered

rubble plinth, and terrace retaining walls at south.

Main entrance elevation at north dominated by square

4-stage tower with round-headed porte cochere in base

with pedimented and balconied 1st floor window above,

clasping angle turrets corbelled from 3rd floor, corbelled

castellated parapet and centre romantic corbelled square

turret with steep pyramidal roof in the manner of

Viollet-le-Duc. Tower at angle of 2 lower ranges

similarly detailed but with pedimented wallhead at right

of main north range, with ogee slated roof and ornate

clock faces above corbelled balcony with decorative

cast-iron balustrade.

Expansive south elevation set at 3 angles with tall angle

drum towers with corbelled upper stage to those clasping

taller eastern block, and attenuated conical decorative

fish-scale and ribbed leaded roofs with terminating

cast-iron finials.

Ornamental pediments to 1st floor windows of drawing

room and NE range, linked by cill bands. Cill bands also

to 2nd floor. Large oriel in SW elevation in advanced and

crowstepped gabled bay. Much ornamental detailing,

balconies, castellations, etc throughout exterior;

corniced stacks and slate roofs. Wide terracing at south

and west. Extensive service courtyard at NW.

Interior; main entrance porch leads to wide mid-19th

century staircase with ornamental Caen stone balustrade

giving onto rib vaulted landing and corridors leading to

main 1st and 2nd floor rooms.

Dining room; re-designed by Sir Robert Lorimer with

ornate coffered moulded plaster ceiling, classical

grisaille frieze of Italian origin, light wood panelled

walls and Tudor style chimneypiece; cast-iron fire back.

Billiard room; large panelled room to accommodate two

billiard tables, reconstructed by Lorimer from 1850

library; pine panelled walls, ornate pilaster ceiling;

green marble chimneypiece with swags above attributed to

Grinling Gibbons.

Breakfast room; canted ends; simple plaster walls with

panelled dado; ornate door case with oyster walnut door;

the overdoor and the incorporating swags by Grinling

Gibbons; 17th century style plaster ceiling; all

re-designed by Lorimer.

Drawingroom; re-designed by Lorimer combining 2 smaller

rooms of Barry wing; long room lit by 5 full length

windows; ornate plaster ceiling with reticulated design,

central armorial boss and decorative frieze; decorative

carved marble chimneypiece with lugged moulded surround

set with figured green and white marble; corniced

door-cases; decorative panelled doors and window shutters

with secondary glazed inner shutters (for double

glazing); ornamental radiator casings.

Library; re-designed by Lorimer from former principal

bedroom and dressing rooms, panelled throughout and

shelved with sycamore wood; figured marbled fireplaces at

each end.

Duke's study; Lorimer panelling in larch; moulded and

lugged wood chimney-piece with figure marble surround;

small wrought iron balcony to window.

Green and gold bedroom; French style, 1921 (for Duchess

Eileen); stippled green panelled walls with gilt garlanded

and mirrored panels; white marble chimneypieces; painted

swag motif decorates ceiling.

Statement of Special Interest

Seat of Sutherland family. Hugh, Lord of Duffus (Moray)

and grandson of Freskin de Moravia, acquired lands in

Sutherland before 1211.

Hugh's son William became 1st Earl of Sutherland circa

1235. Freskin line ended in 1514, title inherited by

Elizabeth Gordon, sister 5th Earl (d.1514), wife Hon.

Adam Gordon, younger son of 2nd Earl of Huntly. 1766

inherited by later Elizabeth Gordon (only daughter 18th

Earl) who married George Granville Leveson-Gore, later

2nd Marquis of Stafford, who inherited enormous

industrial wealth in West Midlands of England, and was

subsequently created 1st Duke of Sutherland (d.1834).

2nd Duke initiated Sir Charles Barry additions.

Dukedom passed elsewhere in 1963, but Dunrobin Castle and

Sutherland estates inherited by Elizabeth, present

Countess of Sutherland in her own right.

Stone for 1835-50 from Brora and Braambury quarries,

Sutherland. Staircase and entrance hall lined with Caen stone.

Much of the interior destroyed by fire in 1915, when the

castle was used as a naval hospital. It was this damage

that initiated the re-designing of the interior by Sir

Robert Lorimer in 1919.






(1980) pp 120, 129-31, 176. DUNROBIN CASTLE (guide) 1980).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 29/05/2016 00:59