Born in Scotland, the Baron of Garth purchased the castle in the early 1990's as an ideal vacation home or year-round residence for family and friends. It's a marvelous place to gather large groups or clans and equally great for escaping the crowds and stress of everyday life. Medieval writers and historians have stayed there for several months absorbing the atmosphere and pastoral setting for research. Businesses have used it as an authentic retreat in Scotland, with some of the world's best hunting, sports and golf nearby, and for families, the annual Highland Games at Aberfeldy with pipers and dancers are nationally known and county fairs abound.
Some of Scotland's finest schools are close by and if desired, visitors (and celebrities) quickly blend unobtrusively into the local community. Other prominent homes and people live in the region, too, enjoying the beauties of a traditional Scottish life.
At the roadside where the track winds up the hill to Garth from the hamlet of Keltneyburn, stands a statue of Major General David Stewart, a hero of the Napoleonic Wars and historian of the Highlands and Highland regiments. Stewart owned the castle in the early 1800's. He wrote in 1820 that there were at least 4,000 people in Atholl descended from the Wolf's son who built the existing castle in 1384. David Stewart was one of them.
Since the 1960's tremendous improvements have been made to the castle, preserving its historic integrity but upgrading the interior for more contemporary lifestyles without destroying the natural charm of its simplicity. Accessibility was greatly improved with the restoration of the drawbridge that accommodates vehicles and controls privacy. Castle Garth had no moat -- only the natural stream that flows around it with the drawbridge as the only crossing.
Surrounded by untouched fields of village archaeology and a mysterious past, Garth Castle appears today much as it was built in 1384 by Sir Alexander Stewart, the heir of two Scottish kings -- son of Robert II of Scotland and the grandson of Robert the Bruce. The exterior is unblemished medieval architecture, with double stone walls up to fourteen feet deep. This helped prevent fire and the ravages of catapults flinging huge boulders against its sides.
The stone tower rises 60 feet from dungeon (a wine cellar today) to a fourth floor master suite. Arrow and gun loops, slits out of which arrows were fired by the knights with little detection, still dot the edifice. Traces of cannon fire that ripped at the outer stones are still evident today, dating to 1654 when Cromwell's troops bombarded the fortress. Garrisoned within for a time, the troops torched the interior and burned the surrounding village as they left. Standing stones, iron sword blades, ancient utensils are unearthed by wind and rain. The remains of a village cottage came to light when work advanced on the surroundings. The land has sheltered a community since the twelfth century when the original castle was built of wood. Lost to fire and violent wars, Castle Garth was hand-built by villagers carrying stone in the off-season of their labors in the field, employing men, women and children. Stone-cutters were engaged to hone the important cornerstones but the rest were laid by village people.
Inside Castle Garth, the dungeon where an early marauding castle owner was sentenced to spend the last nine years of his life has been converted to a wine cellar and storage. On entering the tower, there are two stone-vaulted ground floor rooms. One is a modern kitchen and the other a bath and washroom. The age of Garth Castle is well-documented and even the straight up-and-down stairways (non-spiraling) help reveal its ancient lines. The castle steps are cut into the stone walls with a landing at the Great Hall. Steps continue up to the sleeping quarters on the third floor where people crossed that hall to another flight of steps that continues to the knights' stations and today to the Master Suite on the fourth floor.
Mysteries abound at Garth Castle, all waiting to be discovered!