Lanrick Castle and the MacGregor Monument

MacGregor Monument - photo courtesy of Mr. Robert D. West

MacGregor Monument – photo courtesy of Mr. Robert D. West

by Gregor Hutchinson

The Lanrick Estate, situated in Perthshire on the south bank of the River Teith between Doune and Callander, houses one of the most unusual monuments in Scotland which is commonly referred to as the MacGregor Monument. It is situated in a woodland glade and, for the greater part, takes the form of the bole of a large oak – the plant emblem which features in the Arms of the Chiefs of Clan Gregor.

The Monument rises some 60 ft. (18 m) from a base approximately 20 ft. (6 m) in diameter, and is constructed of quarried blocks of red sandstone. The first 30 ft. (9 m) in height bears the shape of a tree trunk with branch stumps and scars. At the top of this section is set a massive crown of pyramidal stone points each more that 3 ft. (0.9 m) in height and inclined slightly outwards. Within the crown three vertical pillars, each about 15 ft. (4.5 m) long, support a circular dish or platform Formerly, there was also a central pillar which rose to within a short distance of the platform. Alas, this has fallen and now lies in pieces at the base of the Monument.

On the platform directly above the three supporting pillars are three short ornamental pieces, each capped by a flame-like ornament shaped somewhat like the head of an olympic torch. A centrally placed pillar rises a further 15 ft. (4.5 m) from the platform. In its day this ended in an acorn-shaped top which has since broken off and now lies broken at the foot of the Monument.

Despite being 60 ft. (18 m) high, the whole structure is not readily visible because of the surrounding woodland.

Lanrick Estate was formerly part of the great Earldom of Menteith. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Haldane family of Gleneagles when Sir John Haldane married the daughter of the Earl of Menteith. From then onwards Lanrick became the seat of the Haldanes. In the 18th century the estate was forfeited to the Crown as a result of the Haldanes espousing the Jacobite cause. It was later sold to a gentleman by the surname of Wordie who subsequently sold it to Sir John Murray MacGregor, 18th Chief of Clan Gregor.

Sir John spent much time in his later years tracing his family tree. In so far as can be established, the monument seems to have been constructed between 1800 and 1825 although the reasons for its construction remain somewhat obscure. It may commemorate the history of the Chief’s family, the lopped off branches and scars on the trunk of the ‘tree’ signifying those members of the family who perished during the turbulent years of the Clan’s history, especially following the imposition of the harsh penal laws which were passed against Clan Gregor in the 16th and 17th centuries, including the proscription of the name MacGregor and its derivatives. These laws were not finally repealed until 1774 and it may be that the Monument was built as a belated celebration and perhaps also to mark the accession of Sir John’s son, Major-General Sir Evan MacGregor, as 19th Chief of the Clan in 1822.

Lanrick Castle 1958

Unknown woman in front of Lanrick Castle in 1958.

Sir Evan sold Lanrick in 1830 to William Jardine, M.P., a partner in the international trading company Jardine Matheson. Sir Evan subsequently purchased the estate of Edinchip in Balquhidder and this remained the seat of succeeding Chiefs until it was sold in the early 1980’s by Sir Gregor MacGregor, the 23rd Chief of Clan Gregor, who moved to Bannatyne, Newtyle, Angus.

Lanrick House was castellated and turreted in 1791 and from that time was known as Lanrick Castle. In recent times it was still sometimes referred to locally as Clan Gregor Castle or Castle Gregor.

On Saturday, 16 February 2002, despite its being a Category B listed building, the 200-year old castle was summarily demolished.

Just one word of caution! This is private land.
Any visitor to the Monument MUST seek permission from the owner, Mr. Alistair Dickson, of Brioch Farm, Doune.

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Read more here: http://www.clangregor.com/?s=lanrick&submit=Go

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