Scotland’s Abandoned Dunalastair Castle

A skeletal ruin and a playground for urban explorers have replaced what was once a grand country house, Dunalastair Castle

The ruins of Dunalastair Castle are an impressive sight, rising like a ghost from a Perthshire wood.

Many of the building’s original exterior features, like its conical roofs, chimneys, and even a coat of arms above the front door, have been preserved.

So, what happened to this once-proud structure that now looks out over Schiehallion and is a fairy tale ruin?

Dunalastair House doorway – Photo credit: nairnbairn – Flickr

The two-story Baronial mansion was designed by Andrew Heiton, the same architect who created numerous prestigious structures in Perthsire and the surrounding area.

It was built on the site of two previous grand structures.

Another house that Alexander Robertson of Struan, a Jacobite chieftain, once owned stood on the spot.

It was destroyed by fire after the 1745 uprising, and it was replaced by Mount Alexander, a second mansion.

Photo credit: nairnbairn – Flickr

The Estate was sold to General Sir John Macdonald of Dalchosnie by Chief George Duncan Robertson of the Clan Donnachaidh at the beginning of the 1850s.

After that, the house was torn down and rebuilt in 1859 by the new owner.

The slogan “Per Mare, Per Terras” (By sea and land) and the MacDonald Clan Crest can still be seen above the main entrance.

Unimaginably, the house was then taken on by Hugh Tennent, the previous proprietor of Glasgow’s popular Wellpark Bottling works and ale.

Gate at Dunalastair House – Photo credit: nairnbairn – Flickr

The demise of Dunalastair House In 1891, following Hugh’s early death, the house and its estate were sold to James Clark Bunten, who was then Chairman of the Caledonian Railway Company and is the great-grandfather of the current owner.

It began to decline during the First World War as a result of a shortage of staff members necessary to manage such a prestigious residence, which was described as “neither a castle nor comfortable family home.”

Photo credit: nairnbairn – Flickr

Then, during the Second World War, it was ordered to be used as a school for Polish refugees’ children.

A painting by the great John Everett Millais is said to have been destroyed by fire in the late 1940s.

Its decline continued after the 1950s, when the building was vacated and its furniture was sold off.

It was largely abandoned and was the target of additional vandalism, including the theft of lead from its roofs.

Photo credit: nairnbairn – Flickr

A few people have wanted to restore the once-majestic building, which is close to Loch Rannoch, but none of them have met the current owner’s standards so far.

However, they have stated that they do not want the “fairy tale” ruin to be destroyed.