The Key To Scotland’s Treasures

The National Trust for Scotland is sharing the Key To Scotland’s Treasures of over 100 locations in Scotland and more worldwide! Did you know that with a membership you can also visit properties in countries such as the Netherlands, India and Malaysia? Discover more great family fun days out with Scottish heritage, history and some of Scotland’s spectacular scenery.

Treasures of Scotland © National Trust for Scotland

The Key To Scotland’s Treasures this summer – when you join the National Trust for Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland is Scotland’s largest conservation charity with 360,000 members and growing. The only charity to care for both built and natural heritage; it looks after the nation’s top heritage treasures including St Kilda, the UK’s only dual World Heritage Site; the Robert Adam-designed masterpiece – Culzean Castle; the iconic Glencoe – site of the final defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, one of Scotland’s last remaining working grain mills at Barry Mill and the beautiful Pitmedden Garden with its distinctive box-hedging. This summer when you join the National Trust for Scotland, you will be handed the Key to Scotland’s Treasures.

Gannets of St Kilda. Key To Scotland's Treasures
Gannets of St Kilda ©National Trust Scotland

Where The National Trust Was Born

The National Trust for Scotland was born 86 years ago at Pollock House in Glasgow. The charity says that it has deliberately taken a fun, family focus to help show new recruits that it is ‘attainable, affordable and relevant to all’. The Trust is investing £17 million in visitor improvements at Culzean Castle, Brodick Castle, Brodie Castle and Newhailes, so as to share the Key To Scotland’s Treasures.

Pollok House, Glasgow. Gannets of St Kilda
Miss Scotland and local kids try out the key to Scotland’s treasures at Pollok House, Glasgow

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle, near Maybole, Ayrshire, was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945. It is best known for Robert Adams’ late 18th-century architectural masterpiece and its associated estate buildings.  However, there is a depth of history and human activity that rivals any landscapes in the National Trust for Scotland’s care.

Adam’s fancy castle façade encases a medieval L-shaped tower house and caves at the foot of the cliffs. Where the castle is perched, is a unique feature of Culzean. There are remains of late medieval walling needed to defend the supplies that were kept within. Inside the caves, 18th century bottle glass and medieval pottery confirm their use as cellars. But the discovery of human remains, radiocarbon dated to the 8th – 9th century AD, suggests a much earlier ritual focus.

Flints in the cave also indicate occupation back into prehistory. Indeed the castle site on the cliff above is likely to have been defended much earlier. Remains of a drystone wall and 2000-year-old red deer bones hint at an Iron Age fort on the site.  In the wider estate, there is plenty of evidence for prehistoric activity with an Iron Age enclosure and roundhouse excavated in the field below the campsite and a Bronze Age burial mound. There was a complete Food Vessel pot found at Kennel Mount. Walking over the ploughed fields nearby also turned up four Neolithic stone axes.

Culzean Castle. Key To Scotland's Treasures
Culzean Castle. Flickr: Muhammad Younas / CC BY 2.0

Walled Garden

Recently the remains of an 18th century walled garden buried below the Fountain Court in front of Ayrshire’s Culzean Castle was discovered.

This garden wall is thought to result from work undertaken by Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, 2nd Baronet. In 1733, he extended the walled garden, at the foot of the terrace walls, on the east side of the castle. This garden is shown on the estate map of Culzean drawn by John Foulis in 1755.

The walled garden functioned as an enclosed kitchen garden for the castle; with fruit trees lining the south-facing walls of the terraces. The map appears to show rows of planted beds in a rectangular arrangement. This garden was abandoned in 1782 and the walls were demolished by Robert Adam’s workmen. The demolition was part of the wide range of improvements carried out around the castle; which lead to the iconic clifftop structure we see today.

As was the fashion in the late 18th century; the kitchen garden was moved away from the immediate view of the house and the former site was given over to wider views of the picturesque landscape. A new walled garden was built to the south-east, just out of sight of the castle and the date stone above the gate is 1786.

It is likely that a lot of the stone used for this new garden (the existing walled garden at Culzean) would have been re-used from the original one.

Culzean Castle: the Walled Garden. Key To Scotland's Treasures
Culzean Castle: the Walled Garden. Flickr: David Nicholls / CC BY-NC 2.0

Fountain Court

In the middle of the 19th century, the area below the terraces was used as a bowling green, before the large, ornate fountain was installed in 1876.  The area has since come to be known as Fountain Court.  Prior to the 16th century; it is likely that this area was a narrow glen that formed a defensive barrier to the ridge upon which the medieval castle stood.

Famously, a grateful nation granted US President Dwight D Eisenhower unlimited use of part of the castle for his lifetime, to mark his contribution to the Allied war effort in World War II.  He stayed there four times from 1946, including once during his presidency.

The current works leading to the discovery of the kitchen garden walls under the Fountain Court are part of £2.5 million of investment. The purpose is aiming to improve visitor facilities and infrastructure; in what is already one of Scotland’s most popular historic sites.

Lost Garden Found At Culzean Castle. Key To Scotland's Treasures
Lost Garden Found At Culzean Castle ©National Trust for Scotland

I’m sure there will be lots more to discover during the year of history, heritage and archaeology 2017! Dig in, envelop and find your Key to Scotland’s Treasures. Happy Travels:) x

About MichelleDeansHarding


 Michelle has a love of travel and photography, which has currently taken her to six continents. Experiencing other cultures/history and food both independently and while working on-board luxury cruise ships. Discover more about Michelle, her enthusiasm for travel and photography via:

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