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Craighall Rattray (also known as Craighall Castle)


Craighall Rattray occupies an imposing position perched on a cliff above the Ericht Gorge. The mixed deciduous woodlands in the gorge have high conservation value. Some of the former parkland is under arable crops and some remains as pasture with specimen trees dating from the 19th century. The structure of late-18th- and early-19th-century stepped terraces survives around the house.

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

No information available.

Location and Setting

Craighall Rattray is situated about 3 miles (5km) north of Blairgowrie above the gorge of the River Ericht. The house is perched on a sheer cliff, 214' (65m) high above a sharp river meander, and with a dramatic view northwards along the wooded gorge. The house can just be seen through the trees on the west side of the river from the A93 from where it forms a picturesque feature in the view. Tremendous views can also be obtained southwards from the East Drive to the house and the minor road running along the east side of the policies.

The house is set right on the edge of the Ericht Gorge which forms the boundary of the designed landscape to the north, west and south. The hillside rises quite steeply up to the east of the house, sheltering the former area of formal garden and bowling green adjacent to and south of the house. The designed landscape is enclosed by the gorge woodlands and by the East Drive. The surrounding fields remain in agricultural use today. There are 175 acres (71ha) of designed landscape.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

The Mansion House was altered and extended in Baronial style in the mid- 19th century; it is listed B. The stable-block to the south-east of the house dates from 1830. Other buildings on the estate include the Garden Cottage, the Kennels, a lodge and a cottage. There are some urns and a sundial on the terrace of the former formal garden.


The park was formerly grazed and had several individual parkland trees; most of these have gone and the area west of the East Drive is under crops. To the east and north of the drive the park is still under grass and there are beech, horse chestnut, lime and conifers planted in Victorian times. The south drive is lengthy and leaves the A93 where it crosses the Ericht and climbs gradually up the gorge side to the castle above.


The woodlands in the gorge are ancient mixed deciduous woods and have been registered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for their botanical and entomological value. The policy woodlands are planted with beech dating from c.1800 with some oak on the East Drive; some areas were cleared for timber during the war and part is being cleared and opened out today. The South Drive has recently been lined with Lombardy poplar. There are walks through the gorge woodlands.

The Gardens

This garden has been grassed over since 1947 but the terrace remains, as do the steps up to it and their associated ornamentation. The 1st edition OS map of c.1860 shows the terrace and bowling green laid out to the south of the house, although the latter had disappeared by the 2nd edition OS map. This area is shortly to be turned into a horse paddock.

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden lay some distance from the house, to the south of the East Drive and on the south-facing slope of the Mill Burn Valley. It was divided into four compartments in c.1860, but only two compartments by 1910. Today the south-facing wall, garden cottage and glasshouse remain, the latter in derelict condition, but the garden is now disused.

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 designed landscape notable for the imposing situation of the house, perched above the rocky Ericht Gorge. It has outstanding scenic value and the ancient woodland along the Craighall Gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

The Rattrays of Craighall Rattray are said to date back to the time of Malcolm Canmore or Malcolm III, (1057-93) and a keep has been at Craighall from ancient times, formerly defended on the land side by a fosse and two towers. The keep belonged to the Scotts until the 16th century when it was acquired by the Rattrays and was extended to become a mansion in the early 16th century. It was visited by Scott in the summer of 1793 and was reputedly one of the prototypes of 'Tully Veolan' in 'Waverley'. It was altered c.1830 for Baron James Clerk-Rattray in imitation of Abbotsford. A later modernisation of the mansion in Baronial style by Andrew Heiton Snr incorporating the south tower took place for Robert Clerk-Rattray. The entrance porch was added in c.1890 by Andrew Heiton Jnr. On the east wall are some sculptured stones and a 1640 effigy believed to have been bought from the old University of Edinburgh. The name Rattray was added to Craighall at some time before 1880 (possibly during the reign of Charles I, 1620-1649) to avoid confusion with the two other Craighalls in Scotland. In 1885 the owner was Lt General Clerk Rattray who owned 3,256 acres in the shire. Ownership of the mansion has recently been divided into two: Captain J.S. Rattray has sold the south side of the house to a Colonel Rattray of South Africa, and retained the north side facing the gorge.


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Features & Designations


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

  • Site of Special Scientific Interest

  • Reference: Craighall Gorge Woodlands


  • Castle (featured building)
  • Description: The house incorporates an earlier tower and was altered and extended in the mid-19th century.
  • Specimen Tree
  • Garden Terrace
  • Description: The structure of late-18th- and early-19th-century stepped terraces survives around the house.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)








  • Historic Scotland