Monzie Castle has an 18th-century picturesque landscape overlaying an earlier more formal layout. A modified mid 19th-century revival formal garden is attached to the tower house.
Type of Site
18th-century picturesque landscape overlaying an earlier more formal layout. A modified mid 19th-century revival formal garden is attached to the tower house.
Location and Setting
Monzie Castle lies to the north of Crieff. It is reached from the village of Gilmerton just off the A822 and is set in a valley bottom with views to hills all around. A view of particular note is that from the approach to Monzie Castle via the East Lodge down the long curving east drive. The castle appears and disappears as one progresses down the drive towards it. The backdrop of hills, particularly when snow-covered, is striking. The entrance from the west is more sequestered. A wooded bank lies to the north and the Shaggie Burn, with the Knock of Crieff beyond, bounds the estate to the south.
As a result of a fire in the early 20th century no estate plans survive. However, the designed landscape must have been determined largely by its setting. The 18th-century landscape is depicted on the first known map of the estate, General Roy's Military Survey of c. 1750. The landscape boundaries became more clearly defined in the late 18th or early 19th century when the estate became enclosed by the park wall.
Monzie Castle is a 17th-century, three-storey, L-plan laird's house with pedimented doorway dated 1634. A three-storey, Adam-style castellated mansion was added c.1785-90 by the Edinburgh architect John Paterson. After a fire early last century, the interior was rebuilt by Sir Robert Lorimer, 1908-12. The Walled Garden is rubble-built with a curved north wall. This wall originally extended further south, but part has been removed. The Gardener's House, including wall and railings, was built by an unknown architect c.1865-70. It is situated to the south of the castle and overlooks the Shaggie Burn. The Stables were built by the same architect c.1865-70. The Ice-house, built c.1870, is of rubble construction and now roofless. The East Lodge, built c.1790 and thought to be by John Paterson, comprises an octagonal crenellated lodge with attached circular tower and a three arch gateway in Adam castellated style. The Bridge on the east drive over the Shaggie Burn consists of a low arch with parapet rails between ashlar circular pylons with conical tops. Built c.1790, it is also thought to be by John Paterson. Mid-Lodge, built by John Paterson c.1790 over the Keltie Burn is a fortified bridge with high walls and circular towers at the north-west, south-west, and south-east corners and a two-storey keep. The West Lodge comprises a single-storey rubble lodge with broad eaves and simple gate piers. The lodge was built c.1850 probably by the architect William Stirling. The Estate Wall which runs from the East Lodge to Monzie Village is built of stone, 1.5 m high, with rounded coping stones.
Drives and Approaches
Today the main approach is from the south-east from the Gilmerton to Hosh road. The drive begins at the three-arch castellated gateway of the East Lodge and then meanders through arable farmland. the 1st edition 1:10560 (6'), 1866, indicates this area as parkland laid out with some trees, none of which survive. A stone circle and standing stone are sited in this area. The drive forks before reaching the castle. One fork continues to the castle front door, the other continues as the West Drive in a westerly direction, following the line of the Shaggie Burn, past the 19th-century gardener's house and the Mid Lodge.
Paths and Walks
These are numerous and include one to Spout Bay on the Keltie Burn. This is to the north of the estate and outside the policy walls. this is described as having a hermitage. There is no obvious sign of such a building today although some large rocks which afford a good view of the falls may be the remains of one. However, the remains of a pathway/ride is clearly discernible.
From the castle there is also a walk south over Kate McNiven's Craig to the village of Crieff. This path was obviously used to get to and from the castle as it links up with a footbridge over the Shaggie Burn. This walk joins up with a network of other paths on the crag.
General Campbell was reputed to have had a five-mile ride which he did daily. His route is not known, but there are several possibilities. The Old Statistical Account records: 'Monzie mansion-house to Spout-Bay, along the banks of the river, there is a foot-path made and repaired by the family; at the top of which, on the side of the den, and in full view of Spout-bay, there is erected a hermitage, for the reception of admiring visitors of this cascade'.
This is probably the path or ride which ascends to the north of the stables and joins with another which runs east-west. Eastwards leads to the Keltie Bridge and the Gilmerton to Hosh road which forms the northern boundary of the estate policies. The Keltie Burn and Spout Bane lie to the north of the road. The 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6'), 1866, shows a track on the west side of the Keltie Burn, although it does not appear to reach as far as Spout Bay. The Hermitage mentioned in the Old Statistical Account is not marked on the 1866 map. Alternatively, the ride may have been to the Falls of Monzie, also described in the Old Statistical Account. There is also mention in the same description of another cascade, this time on the River Shaggie:
'. . . the breadth of the river at the top is 18 feet, the height of the fall 55 feet, and the breadth at the bottom 43 feet. It falls over very rugged rocks. One would think the path had been made by the hand of art'.
Although the parkland today is reduced, its boundaries are discernible. The land on either side of the east drive was originally planted as parkland, as shown on the 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6'), 1863, though not extensively and with no apparent conscious attempt to group the trees. This land is now down to arable and few trees survive. Some larches of a later date than those in the walled garden survive on a tributary of the Shaggie Burn which runs north-west/south-east through the park. The banks of the Shaggie Burn have been colonised by common alder. The parkland becomes more evident closer to the castle but the tree plantings have thinned considerably over time. The eskers form part of the parkland and provide a definitive framework to it.
Although the ground in the immediate vicinity of Loch More has been planted the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1866, shows no evidence for the wider area having been planted. However, the perimeter of the area to the north, west and south of Loch More is shown planted with a line of common beech trees just as it is today.
Large areas of planting to the south-west of Loch More and around two more recently excavated lochans and Dogmill Pond have been replanted, unfortunately with a mix of native species rather than beech.
Monzie is very clearly defined by the Gilmerton to Hosh road that marks the northern and eastern boundaries, and to the south by Kate McNiven's Craig. The woodland is mostly in the form of belts, the dominant feature of which is the beech planting in the eskers.
An area of lawn and trees around the house is fenced off from the parkland. To the north of the house there are mixed borders and further to the north, between the house and stables is a line of mature Sitka spruce, beech, and false cypress, with holly forming a secondary layer. On the east lawn are some old holly specimens.
On the south-east side of the castle there is a series of three grass terraces, the remnants of the gardens of the 17th-century house. Beyond the third terrace a large square raised area may also belong to the 17th-century garden. Trees in this area include sycamore, oak, and beech. Beyond this is a plantation of conifers and dogwood (Cornus alba). A stand of Silver birch separates these areas of garden from the walled garden to the west.
South-west and to the rear of the castle, a formal garden on a square terrace is also possibly part of the gardens of the 17th-century house. The present design is probably a simplification of the cross-shaped layout shown on the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1863. The layout consists of a central fountain, no longer working and minus its basin, surrounded by corner shaped beds planted with Azaleas, with Irish yew on the outside corners. A grey gravel path leads to the front door of the old house, and gravel paths edge the formal layout.
The walled garden lies to the south-west of the house and was probably built c.1790. The north wall is curved and originally extended southwards in front of the old house, and then at right angles to the south-west. These last two stretches of wall have been removed and the stretch immediately in front of the old house replaced by a dry-stone dyke supporting a narrow border, no doubt to afford better views into the walled garden from the house. The garden would have been laid out with flower borders and vegetables plots. Today it is put down to lawn with a perimeter path and box-edged flowerbeds on either side.
The large pond, probably the fish-pond of the old house, bounds the walled garden on the south side. On the north-east side of the pond are two larches, all that remain of five sent by Mr Menzies of Culdares, who also introduced them at Dunkeld in 1738. A lime stands by the gate on the eastern boundary wall of the garden.
A range of lean-to glass-houses survives on the north wall of the garden, backing onto a lean-to potting shed on the north side of the wall.
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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
An attractive 18th-century picturesque landscape overlaying an earlier more formal layout. There is a modified mid 19th-century revival formal garden attached to the tower house, and what is likely to be an early 18th-century mount.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
18th and early 19th century.
An early formal garden and landscape may have been formed by 1634, possibly under the influence of Archibald Campbell of Monzie, who built the early L-plan house. There is little further documentary information until General Roy's Survey c. 1750 which shows a formal layout including an avenue or ride running east-west in front of the north side of the house.
This old avenue or ride survives in what is now parkland to the north-east of the castle. It appears to run in a fairly direct line from the village of Monzie below one of the beech planted eskers (glacial ridges of gravel and sand), then behind the 19th-century stables to veer south-west as it approaches what was the main front of the castle. An earthwork mount on which stood a Chinese temple is situated on an esker on the corner where the drive turns up to the house. The mount is described in the Old Statistical Account, 1796:
'Opposite to the foot of the principal entry into the mansion-house of Monzie, there is an artificial mount, near 70 feet high, in shape a truncated cone, upon which stands a Chinese Temple. The temple is hexagonal, and almost entirely open, except the pillars which support the roof. It is 14 feet long, 12 broad and 14 feet high. The roof terminates in a point, upon which there is a balcony with a bell, about 4 feet high.'
The Chinese temple has been gone for many years and there are no known illustrations of the building.
In the late 18th century General Campbell was responsible for the laying out of the grounds as they are today. He exploited the picturesque qualities of the site, creating a new, gently winding south-east drive which plays on the backdrop of the hills and gently meanders through the policies which were reformed as an English style landscaped park. New parkland planting was formed to the north-east of the castle and the multiple eskers were planted with beech which give Monzie its distinctive character. A similarly picturesque west drive was formed to create a 'fortified bridge cum keep', thought to be the same period as the late 18th-century house. The drive continues to the road. A small, 19th-century, one-storey lodge is sited at this point.
General Campbell was also responsible for creating Loch More to the north of the castle. This was achieved by diverting the water from a burn via an aqueduct under the road. The aqueduct is still in working order. To the east of Loch More are remains of extensive gravel workings, the beginnings of which are indicated on the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1863.
A sketch plan of the estate made in 1864, two years before the 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6'), 1866, gives the impression of very dense woodland around the castle and along an esker called Broughty to the south-west of the castle. As a mapping exercise it is obviously inaccurate but the impression cannot be ignored.
The Ordnance Gazetteer notes that weems (Iron Age underground dwellings or caves) were found in the park though their location is not known today.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Castle (featured building)
- Description: Monzie Castle is a 17th-century, three-storey, L-plan laird's house with pedimented doorway dated 1634. A three-storey, Adam-style castellated mansion was added c.1785-90 by the Edinburgh architect John Paterson.
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- Key Information
Open to the public