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Tuesday, 01 November 2011 11:28

House Of Dun & Montrose Basin Nature Reserve

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House Of Dun & Montrose Basin Nature Reserve Courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland House Of Dun & Montrose Basin Nature Reserve Courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland

This beautiful Georgian house, overlooking Montrose Basin, was built in 1730 by William Adam. The house features superb plasterwork, a particular and memorable feature. Outside, enjoy the attractive walled garden and woodland walks.

The Hutchison Collection

This exceptional collection of 20th-century Scottish paintings was given to the National Trust for Scotland by Douglas Hutchison in 1999 and was originally hung at the Trust’s former headquarters at Wemyss House in Edinburgh.

Whilst on wartime leave he frequently visited the Scottish Gallery in Castle Street, Edinburgh, run by the redoubtable Miss Proudfoot.

He began to collect in earnest after the war, when he was based with a family business in Kirkcaldy. Over the next 50 years he created a renowned collection, 33 of which form this important exhibition.

He said, 'Collecting has been nothing but tremendous fun. I never bought a picture that did not give me pleasure and when it ceased to do this I got rid of it'.

Fellow collectors John Blyth of Kirkcaldy and Robert Wemyss Honeyman, a neighbour near Aberfeldy, became friends as did the dealers he frequented: Bill McAulay, Bill Jackson and later, Guy Peploe at The Scottish Gallery and Patrick Bourne now of The Fine Art Society.

Douglas Hutchison was a very modest man. He derived great pleasure from his paintings and showing them to others. This led to many great friendships in the art world and beyond.

His art collection represents the very best of 20th-century Scottish art. The National Trust for Scotland was his choice of custodian; he had been actively involved with the Trust for a number of years but felt that they had tended to overlook Scottish painting of the 20th century.

He also hoped that by making this donation of artwork others might be encouraged to make similar gifts.

Douglas Hutchison died in 2001. It was his wish that this collection of paintings should be kept together for the enjoyment of the public and it would have given him great pleasure to know that his collection will reach a new audience whilst at the House of Dun.

Joseph Enzer Plasterwork

The house features superb plasterwork by Joseph Enzer, forming the chief glory of the interior of Dun. Enzer is also noted for his work at Arniston House in Midlothian and Yester House in East Lothian. The allegorical programme is complex and invites overt and cryptic Jacobite interpretations - a kind of Jacobite Da Vinci Code.

Royal Connections

Lady Augusta Kennedy-Erskine was the daughter of King William IV and the beautiful actress Mrs Dorothy Jordan, and the House of Dun contains many royal mementos.

Gun and Rod Collection

The 19th Laird of Dun was a very keen sportsman, and two rooms have been assembled to illustrate the all-too-often unacknowledged importance that field sports played in the life of a country house. The gun room boasts a fine punt gun by Westley Richards and a seven-barrelled rifle by Samuel Nock amongst others in this fine collection.

Angus Handloom Weavers

The south carriage-house has been converted and leased to Mr Ian Dale, the proprietor of Angus Handloom Weavers and the last handloom linen weaver working in Britain. This trade, once so extensive on the east coast of England and Scotland, has now been replaced by machine looms. The workshop produces and sells a wide and attractive range of linens of traditional design, which Mr Dale also supplies to customers all over the world. Contact: Mr Ian Dale, (01674) 810255.

Miniature Model Theatre

The former Stillroom houses ‘Mr Riach’s Performing Theatre of Arts’, presented to the Trust in 1988 by Mr Timothy Brown of Gargunnock. Begun in the 1830s by Mr Brown’s great-grandfather, this miniature theatre provides a view of family entertainment in the days before gramophone, radio or television.

Ancestral Tourism

Recent archives found in the House contain family trees dating back to 1260, which have yet to be determined as authentic.


River South Esk - salmon/sea-trout beat

These salmon and sea-trout fishings are available on the left and right banks of the River South Esk at Bridge of Dun. Marker posts divide the beat into six sections. The pools are known as ‘Viaduct’, ‘Thornbush’, ‘Midstream Flats’, ‘Hurl Pots’ and ‘March Pool’. Spring tides can reach roughly halfway up the beat, which is approximately three-quarters of a mile long. The river is 25-35 metres wide, largely on a gravel bed, and much of it can be fished by wading. Two croys are positioned near to the eastern extremity on the north bank. A ghillie patrols the Trust’s Dun beat. Bailiffs from the South Esk District Salmon Fishery Board also visit the river from time to time.

* Salmon fishing season runs from 16 February to 31 October. You can reserve your fishing simply by logging on to or contact Ann Kelday on 0844 493 2100 for further details on licences.


Gallows Knowe
The Erskine family and the Dun Estate were a symbol of authority in the area. As you pass along the main drive and look to the right into the farmer's field you might notice the small fenced-off area in the field which is known as Gallows Knowe.

The National Trust for Scotland cares for Gallows Knowe so that people can continue to give it new meanings, linking the past, present and future. Gallows Knowe was built 3,500-4,500 years ago as a burial mound. Since then, people have thought about it in different ways and put it to different uses. The mound has played a role in community identity, power and authority. It has also been a symbol of the rights of certain people to call this place their own.

In the medieval period, Gallows Knowe may have been used as a place of execution for crimes of theft and manslaughter. The tradition that the mound was the execution site for the medieval Barony of Dun was recorded by 19th-century surveyors mapping the countryside around the House of Dun. The Barony was a large territory administered by the Lord of Dun. Gallows Knowe may have been chosen because it lay very close to the site of Dun Castle, the lord's seat of power. The mound is also highly visible from the public road to Montrose. It would have been an obvious warning to passers-by of the punishment awaiting wrong-doers.

The medieval Baron Court may also have been held here. This was a sort of parliament and court of law. It settled minor disputes amongst neighbours as well as passing judgement on more serious crimes. Monuments like Gallows Knowe were often used for important gatherings in medieval times, and they provided an impressive setting for ceremonies. Their association with an ancient, unknown past meant they were seen as very powerful places.

You can learn more by following the information boards from the house to Gallows Knowe.

The estate is run by the National Trust for Scotland, for more information including admission fees and opening hours, please see the website.

Read 2191 times Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2011 12:03
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