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Gargunnock House


Attractive early-18th-century parkland forms the setting for Gargunnock House. There is a walled garden dating from the same period but altered in the 19th century. It has a trapezoidal shape with one curved wall. A 19th-century woodland garden has a varied collection of ornamental trees and shrubs and there are 20th-century formal gardens around the house. The house is now let out by the Landmark Trust.

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:

Location and Setting

Gargunnock House is situated 6 miles (9.5km) west of Stirling and 0.5 miles (0.8km) east of Gargunnock village. The house is set above the wide valley of the Rivers Forth and Teith to the north and in the shelter of the scarp face of the Gargunnock Hills to the south. The hills rise steeply to a height of 1600' (488m) and the several burns which flow north to the River Forth have cut down through the sandstone to form cascades and waterfalls. The site affords fine views northwards to the Braes of Doune and also over the carse lands to west and east. The policy woodlands are visible from the A811 which forms the northern boundary of the designed landscape.

The designed landscape has remained similar in extent and structure since at least 1750 when General Roy's map was surveyed. The walled garden is shown at that date to the west of the house, and two avenues extended from the house to the east and to the north. The policies extended northwards as far as the river and there were many individual trees in the north park. By 1860 and the 1st edition OS map, the woodland to the north of the house had been planted up and the east avenue lost. The park extended south to the access road to the village and a woodland walk was shown along the side of the burn to the south of the lodge. An earlier peel tower existed to the north-east of the present policies. There are 127 acres (52ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Gargunnock House is an extended 16th century tower house with a Georgian south front, of a seven-window pattern, with central pediment added in 1794. The house is listed A. The stable-block to the north of the house dates from the early 19th century and is listed B. The Doocot also dates from the early 19th century: it is unusual in shape, being octagonal with castellations, and it is listed B. The sundial, originally put in by Sir James Campbell in 1731 in the walled garden, is also listed B; it is now in the formal garden. There is a lodge at the main, south entrance to the grounds, and Millhead Cottage at the west end of the policies was formerly an inn.


The park contains some fine parkland trees including some oak and sycamore of around 180-200 years old. A fine mature cut-leaf beech is growing to the north of the house. There used to be a laundry and drying green to the north and out of sight of the house. The parks are maintained by let grazing and form an attractive foreground to the house.


The policy woodlands are mainly planted with mixed deciduous species: oak, sycamore, beech and elm. A few of the elm have Dutch Elm disease and are in decline. There are some very old trees on the site, eg the old sycamore near the walled garden, and there is a wide age range of trees in the woodlands. The north woodland is of mixed deciduous and coniferous trees and suffered from windblow in the 1968 gale. An old beech and oak avenue runs north from the house along the western boundary of this wood. To the south of the entrance lodge, the hillside has also been planted with mixed deciduous trees.

Woodland Garden

The south area of the policies has been planted up as a woodland garden, with many attractive flowering shrubs and unusual specimen trees. A sequoia avenue lines the main drive to the house and other fine trees include Cedrus deodara, Abies alba, Tsuga heterophylla and Juniperus chinensis 'Aurea'. There are some good rhododendrons and other special shrubs, such as Kalmia latifolia. Autumn colour is provided by the maples and other ornamental planting along the drive. Many of the plants have been labelled by Miss Stirling. The garden is also noted for its spring display of daffodils.

The Gardens

The formal garden lies to the immediate west of the house and has been planted up with flowering shrubs, heathers and herbaceous plants by Miss Stirling. The 1731 sundial has been moved from the walled garden and now forms a central focus in the formal garden.

Walled Garden

The walled garden lies to the west of the house and has an unusual trapezoidal shape with a curved west wall. The garden was divided into four main compartments in the 1860s, and in its heyday it was planted out with vegetables, fruit and herbaceous borders, with grass walks in between. It has not been used in that form since 1935, but is currently used for potatoes; some fruit trees remain. To the south of the main garden is a smaller, triangular enclosure which was planted up as an orchard. Glasshouses which once stood on the south walls of both gardens have gone.

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

Most noted for the attractive layout of the gardens and parkland which provide the setting for a category A listed house, the designed landscape also contains a valuable tree collection.

Site History

There was an early peel tower at Gargunnock on a site to the north-east of the present house, which commanded a ford on the River Forth. It was surrounded by a rampart and fosse and is said to have been held by an English garrison while William Wallace held nearby Keir Hill. Early in the 16th century, the lands of Gargunnock were acquired by the Seton family who held them for more than a century. In 1624 the estate was granted to the Earl of Mar but it was purchased before 1675 by James Campbell (of Gargunnock), Writer to the Signet.

The present house dates from the late 16th century, and the east wing is the earliest remaining part of the house. Various additions were made to the house in the 17th & 18th centuries. It was occupied by a Jacobite garrison in 1745, when Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas was the laird. Sir James added the walled garden and the Georgian south front was completed in 1794. In 1835 Gargunnock was purchased by Charles Stirling, 5th son of John Stirling of Kippendavie. In 1848 Chopin visited Gargunnock while on a tour of Scotland with his pupil and benefactress Jane Stirling of Kippendavie. The laird at that time was Colonel John Stirling who had succeeded to the estate in 1839; he held 1880 acres in the shire. Colonel John Stirling, the present owner's grandfather, was a botanist and was responsible for planting many of the fine trees and shrubs in the grounds. Miss Stirling has added to them and also designed the shrub garden to the west of the house.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Features & Designations


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


  • Dovecote
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Sundial
  • Earliest Date:
  • Avenue
  • Description: Sequoia avenue lining the main drive.
  • Fortified House (featured building)
  • Description: A 16th-century tower house with Georgian additions.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)








  • Historic Scotland