Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Clan Chiefs and their ancestral homes

There is an understandable curiosity amongst visitors to Scotland about our clan chiefs. Generalisaton is impossible, however. The chief of Clan Murray is the 11th Duke of Atholl: his seat is at Blair Castle and he commands the Atholl Highlanders, the only legal private army in Europe but actually lives in Haenertsburg, South Africa. The chief of Clan Campbell is the 13th Duke of Argyll: his seat is Inveraray Castle built by his ancestor in 1746. In 2005 he captained the Chivas Regal Scotland team to win the World Elephant Polo Championships for the second year running.

I could go on. They are a colourful bunch.

A year or two ago I took a German journalist to meet Lachie Rattray, chief of Clan Rattray. We met in the beautiful and dramatic Craighall Castle (above) which has been in the family since 1533. He shattered a few of her illusions however when he explained that to fund the castle upkeep, he runs an architectural salvage and bath cleaning business and his elegant wife Nicky owns a bunkhouse in Stirling and offers Bed and Breakfast in the castle (enjoyed by several of our clients).

Alas it seems that the struggle has been too great and the lovely Craighall Castle is up for sale.
Much though I like them, I do hope there are no worthwhile offers.

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