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Dalcross Castle


The designed landscape at Dalcross Castle dates from the mid-18th century. It consists of lawns, shrubberies and formal and kitchen gardens. The kitchen garden is sub-divided by box hedges and is well-maintained.

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

Dalcross Castle is set on Drummossie Muir, a ridge of higher ground between the Moray Firth 3 miles (5km) to the north, and the valley of the River Nairn 1 mile (2km) to the south. The Nairnshire Hills rise up beyond the river to the south-east of the Castle. Dalcross lies just to the north-east of Culloden Forest and Muir, and 7 miles (11km) north-east of Inverness. The A96(T) from Inverness to Nairn runs parallel with the coast and with the ridgeline, and lies 1 mile (2km) north of the Castle. The site is bounded by minor roads to the north and west and by Cantray Wood to the south and east. Views can be obtained from the Castle to the Moray Firth to the north, particularly in winter. The woodlands and trees in the policies shelter the grounds and obscure views into the policies from the surrounding area.

The Castle is set at about 350' above sea level on higher ground on the ridge top above the village of Croy. The extent of the designed landscape has remained similar since at least the 1st edition OS map of c.1860. To the west and south of the Castle, the garden is divided into four compartments, protected by shelterbelts. The woodlands of Culloden Forest lie to the west and south of the Castle beyond the garden. There are some 17 acres (6.7ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

The five-storey traditional Scottish Baronial Castle is based on an original tower house, remodelled by the 5th Lord Lovat before 1576. Some additions were possibly made in 1621, and in 1720. The Castle was roofless prior to its restoration in 1896, probably by W. Carruthers, and is listed A; the Garden Wall is included in the listing.

A Well Head next to the Castle marks the 80' well. The ancient entrance archway is impressive; it is late 19th century and is listed C(S). The Gatehouse is a mid-19th century cottage also listed C(S). There is also the Gardener's Cottage and the annex containing two flats.

The Gardens

The gardens are shown on the 1st edition OS map as being surrounded by shelter planting and internally subdivided into four compartments to the west of the Castle. The central two compartments are shown on this map as more formally planted, possibly as an orchard.

Today, the area to the front of the Castle has been laid out as a lawn; it is shown as lawn in photographs dating from around 1890, which also show today's tall trees as tiny clipped conifers. The gravel drive is lined with urns, and a hedge divides the lawn from the more formal pattern of paths and grass edges which lead to the kitchen garden to the west of the house. A broad herbaceous border is reached first, which contains ornamental shrubs as well as roses and more traditional herbaceous plants, including poppies and lupins. Some apple trees have been planted in a line parallel with this border and, behind them, is a beautifully laid out kitchen garden.

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden is walled on only one side but is sheltered by high hedges, and on its south-east side is a trellis-work fence. Within the garden, compartments are subdivided by well-kept box hedges containing vegetables and fruit, including gooseberries and a variety of currants. New apple and cherry trees have been put in, and the glasshouse is used for growing tomatoes.

Beyond the kitchen garden, to the south, is an old rose garden somewhat overgrown but with the beds still marked out. A mixed plantation of hard and softwoods has been put in to the west of the garden in the last twenty years. There is also a beech walk and a small shrubbery with Azaleas and Rhododendrons, leading to the south- west of the policies. Some old trees remain in the grounds, some beech of about 200 years old, a fine larch, copper beech, and some large cypress, one of which blew down in 1983. In the south- east of the policies, larch, sycamore and beech have been planted, of mixed age, dating from about fifty years old. To the south-west of the Castle is a sunken area which was once possibly laid out in a formal pattern and later put to grass and used first as a bowling green and now as a croquet-lawn. There are also some tennis courts.

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

The 16th century castle has a long association with the Mackintosh family, head of Clan Chattan, and there has been a designed landscape around it, remaining relatively unchanged, since the mid 18th century. The landscape consists of traditional lawns, formal and kitchen gardens near the castle, with some parkland and woodland further away.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

There is no available documentary or design plan evidence at the Castle and no known designers.

Tradition holds that Dalcross Castle was built by the 5th Lord Lovat, Hugh, in the 16th century and Burke's Peerage refers to his sister Anne marrying a John Fraser of Dalcross. Shortly afterwards the estate of Dalcross passed out of the Lovat clan to the Clan Chattan, whose 19th Chief, Lachlan, died there at the end of 1703. Roy's map of 1750 shows the Castle with a square enclosure to the south-east. The family name of the Clan Chattan is Mackintosh, and the Castle has remained in the same family through the generations although their main seat is Moy Hall at Moy, Inverness-shire.

In 1917 Alexander Mackintosh son of the 29th chief of Clan Chattan, married Lady Maud Cavendish, eldest daughter of the 9th Duke of Devonshire. Their daughter Anne became 30th Chief of the Clan until her marriage, when the chiefship devolved on her kinsman Duncan Alexander Mackintosh, while Dalcross Castle remained in her ownership. The present laird is her son, Mr Warre. The Castle has not been lived in on a permanent basis since the last war but it has been kept as a holiday home and the gardens have been maintained.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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


  • Well Head
  • Gatehouse
  • Castle (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The kitchen garden is subdivided by box hedges and is well-maintained.
  • Shrubbery
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential








  • Historic Scotland