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Buchanan Castle


The designed landscape associated with the ruined Buchanan Castle is much degraded due to housing and recreational development. Fragments of parkland and some specimen trees remain and are significant in the local landscape.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Type of Site

Fragments of former designed landscape layers dating from the mid-18th-century to the late 19th century, once typified by parkland, tree specimens, woodland blocks and avenues, greatly modified and in parts obliterated by commercial forestry and private housing development with a limited area of parkland representative of the former designed landscape character surviving through a golf course established in 1936.

Location and Setting

The policies of Buchanan Castle are situated some 17 miles (27.5km) to the north- west of Glasgow between the village of Drymen and the east shore of Loch Lomond. They are enclosed to the north by the B837, to the south by the River Endrick and to the east by the A809. The River Endrick forms the boundary between Strathclyde and Central Region. The parkland is set on the flat floodplain of the river. Soil conditions are sandy and have been conducive to the uses made of the park since its original layout. The parkland of Kilmaronock Castle to the south of the river is particularly significant from the Park of Buchanan. To the north the hills rise towards Ben Lomond 3,194', (974m) eastwards to the Campsie Fells, south to the Kilpatrick Hills and west to the hills by Loch Lomond and Loch Long. Magnificent views of these hills and mountains are gained from Buchanan. The Castle, its woodlands and parkland are highly significant from the A811 to the south. From the A837 in the north, the woodlands screen the designed landscape which they enclose.

Buchanan Castle is situated on elevated ground overlooking the extensive parkland which stretches for approximately 2.5km along the banks of the River Endrick, the southern boundary of the policies. Woodlands extend along the northern boundary of the B837 and project into the estate, forming enclosures to the former parklands lying north of the Castle. Buchanan Old House, now converted as the Golf Clubhouse, is situated on the edge of the parkland to the north-west of the Castle. Documentary map evidence is provided by a design plan by Wm. Adam of 1745 (SRO RHP 6150), General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st edition OS map of 1871, and the 2nd edition OS map of c.1910.

Reference to the design plan by William Adam, and General Roy's map, indicates that the 18th century designed landscape was confined to the north of the river. Comparison of the 1st edition OS map of 1871 with these earlier records shows that the policies were extended to the east and south in the intervening period. By 1871 a drive, extending across the River Endrick and continuing down a beech avenue to Gargowan Lodge on the A811, had been added and was in use until recent years. The parkland to the south of the river, part of Kilmaronock House policies, is not thought to have ever been part of Buchanan but is, however, highly significant from within its policies. Views to the surrounding hills are important from within the site. William Adam's design of 1745 envisaged avenues radiating to the west from the Old House of Buchanan. The vista down the principal avenue was centred on the island of Inchmurrin in Loch Lomond where the Duke of Montrose had built a pleasure lodge beside the existing ruined Castle. This plan, however, does not appear to have been carried out as, according to Pennant in his description of c.1770, the planned view was not visible from the Castle. There is no view of Loch Lomond today from within the policies, due to the flat nature of the landscape. The designed landscape today includes some 1,661 acres (672ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Buchanan Castle, listed category B, is a Baronial mansion built in 1854 to the design of William Burn. The roof was removed in 1954 and, since then, the condition of the building has deteriorated. The remains of the Old Castle of Buchanan, listed B and destroyed by fire in 1850, have been incorporated into the Golf Clubhouse built in 1936.

The early 19th century Stables, listed B and sited to the north-west of the Old Castle, were recently converted to luxury flats. The East Lodge stands at the main entrance on the A809. Buchanan Well is situated to the east of the Stables. The Ice House, listed B, is situated in the woodland south of High Mains. A sundial stands on the lawn on the west side of the Golf Clubhouse. The Duchess Bridge is 19th century and listed C(S).


The present parkland of Buchanan was laid out between 1750 and 1871. Comparison of William Adam's plan of 1745 and General Roy's map of 1750 indicates that the elaborate scheme of avenues in the park was not all carried out. A painting of 1750 shows the long facade of the Adam House standing amid extensive parkland with young trees. It is not known if this is an artist's impression or if it was painted after the house was built. The 1st edition OS map of 1871 shows that by this time an extensive parkland was laid out between the River Endrick and what is now the B837, separated by woodland blocks.

Today the parkland character is maintained only in the area to the south of the Old Castle, which is now the golf course, and a field in the south-east corner of the policies at Drymen Bridge. The golf course was laid out in 1936, over 18 holes with a total length of 6,853 yards. By 1939, plans were being prepared to reduce it in length in order to reduce the impact of winter flooding and allow it to be played all year. It was, however, shortened to 12 holes during World War II to meet the demand for increased cultivation. Since 1946, the 6 holes reintroduced are shorter than those previously in play.

Trees in the remaining parkland date largely from the mid-19th century, with some remaining from the 1790 phase of development near the Old Castle. An extensive tree planting programme has been carried out on the golf course. Species used are consistent with the original plantings of oak, lime, beech, and sycamore. A curling pond marked in the south-east corner of the park in the 1st edition OS map has gone.


Reference to General Roy's map of 1750 shows a woodland block to the south-east of Buchanan Old House in a similar position to that shown on the Adam plan of 1745 which incorporated diagonal rides which were interspersed with meandering paths.To the north-west of the Castle, the major woodland block has rides which coincide with the avenues proposed on the Adam plan, criss-crossed by additional breaks in the planting. The present woodland structure was established by 1871. The majority of the policy woodlands have been felled since the last war and replanted as commercial forestry. Deciduous blocks remain on the east boundary of policies on the main drive and along the A809 and to the west of the Old Castle, extending north to Doghouse Glen. These woods consist of some trees planted in the late 19th & early 20th century, but are mostly mixed deciduous species which have naturally regenerated since the woods were felled c.40 years ago.

Ornamental conifers planted in the 1850s were measured by Alan Mitchell in 1982. These form significant skyline features of the distant views of the Castle when viewed from the park and the surrounding vantage points.

The Gardens

The OS map of 1871 shows parterres and terraced gardens to the west and south of the new Castle from which point panoramic views could be gained of the park. The structure of these gardens remained until World War II. Since then, private housing developments have been sited on these and other areas of ornamental garden around the new Castle.

Around the Old Castle, now the golf clubhouse, a new garden has been created with herbaceous planting along the edges of shrub borders which consist largely of Rhododendron ponticum. A sundial stands on the lawns which sweep down to the golf course beneath a double line of Wellingtonias, planted in 1852.

Walled Garden

The walled garden is sited to the east of Buchanan Castle on the north side of the east drive. In 'Scottish Gardens' by Patrick Neill of 1813, the walled garden and hothouses were 'planned in 1792 but only finished in 1802.' The OS map of 1871 shows a central rectangular garden with additional laid out enclosures on all sides. A large conservatory was moved to the walled garden of Brodick Castle in 1948. The garden itself was sold in 1952 to Mr W.S. Wilson. In recent months, development of the site for 17 luxury houses has begun and part of the south wall has been removed to enable easy access.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

A much degraded designed landscape most notable for providing the setting for the now derelict Buchanan Castle. The parkland and some of the specimen trees play a significant role in the surrounding scenery.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

The designed landscape was laid out between 1750 - 1871, with improvements made in the 1790s, and again in the late 1850s, with extensive modification to and loss of designed landscape in the 20th century through golf course and housing developments.

Site History

The designed landscape which exists today was laid out between 1750 - 1871. Improvements to the policies were made in the 1790s, at the time when Playfair was working on improvements to the house. Further improvements were made following the construction of the new castle in the late 1850s.

The Buchanan family are known to have held the estate of their name since at least 1231. On their extinction in 1682, the Estate was purchased by the 3rd Marquess of Montrose, whose lands in the east of Scotland had been devastated by the Duke of Argyll in 1640. In 1707 a Dukedom was conferred on James Graham, the 4th Marquess. He was succeeded by his son, William, in 1731, who commissioned William Adam in 1745 to produce a formal design plan for the policies along with proposals for the house. William Edgar was also commissioned around this time to produce plans for the park. James, the 3rd Duke, succeeded in 1790 and around this time Playfair was commissioned to alter the house, and many improvements were made to the grounds before his death in 1836. His son, the 4th Duke, married Caroline Beresford in the same year in which he inherited Buchanan. They were both involved in breeding and training racehorses and during their time the parkland was used for horse racing. Buchanan became a renowned training establishment for racehorses; the names of their most successful horses were given to holes on the golf course which was later established on the park.

In 1850 the Old Castle was destroyed by fire. Two years later, William Burn was commissioned to design a new house a short distance away from the Old Castle. Extensive tree planting was carried out at this time. The 4th Duke died in 1874. He was succeeded by his son, Douglas, and grandson James in 1925. In 1936 the Golf Club was founded at Buchanan on a lease from Montrose Estates and the new Castle opened as a Guest House. Plots of land within the Estate were feued for building with a view to developing, according to the press release, 'a first class residential area, of good design and in harmony with the surrounding policies'. Each was to stand in private ground from 3-5 acres. Development at this stage did not proceed due to the outbreak of war in 1939. The Guest House was closed. The Castle was converted for use as a Hospital, one of the patients being Rudolf Hess. The south-east end of the Golf Course on the park was ploughed for the war effort. In 1954 the 6th Duke died, to be succeeded by his son, James, who had been resident for some years in South Africa. In the same year, the roof was removed from the Castle. Since then, the remaining hospital buildings have been converted for residential use and the estate has been further developed with private housing. The Golf Club continues to flourish and, in 1986, celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • Ruin
  • Description: The remaining walls of Buchanan Old House are incorporated into the golf clubhouse.
  • Icehouse
  • Sundial
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Part: standing remains



Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland