Huntingtower Castle – Honeymoon Spot of Queen Mary

Huntingtower Castle was originally the House of Ruthven.The Ruthvens held the lands from 1100s and the castle was built in the 15th Century. King James VI was imprisoned here in 1582 when he was fifteen. In revenge he killed the Ruthvens in1600 and their lands were forfeited. The name of the castle was changed to Huntingtower and it was given by the Crown to the Murrays of Tullibardine.

The Earl of Tullibardine gained the property in 1663 and it passed to John Murray, the first Duke of Atholl in 1676. Lord George Murray, the Jacobite commander, was born there in 1694. It was abandoned as a place of residence in 1767. The castle has an interesting structure and now when you enter it you go into the ground floor of the eastern Tower or by steps from the courtyard into the first floor of the western Tower.

The two towers were three meters apart and the eastern tower was originally a gatehouse that was converted around 1500 into a three-storey residential tower house. The first floor hall has a tempera-painted wooden ceiling with intricate painted plasterwork representing a bird among beautiful leaves dating from about 1540. This was hidden behind later paneling and only discovered during restoration work in 1913. Traces of painted plasterwork from an even earlier period are also visible. A fine 15th Century fireplace is seen on the second floor.

The western tower was built soon after and it is also a three-storey tower house with a four-storey chamber block at the southwest corner. The two separate tower houses occurred when the estate was divided between two sons of the first Lord Ruthven. Other buildings were set around the courtyard of the castle. In the 1600’s the two towers were linked by a curtain wall giving Huntingtower the appearance of a regular country mansion. The Murray’s also created beautiful formal gardens to the south and east of the castle.

Huntingtower Castle remained with the Atholl family until 1805 when it was sold and used to house workers of a nearby cloth-printing factory. Today the grounds and the castle are beautifully cared for and it is a popular venue for weddings – after all Mary Queen of Scots honeymooned here!

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