Scotland's Carbisdale Castle goes on sale for £1.5million

Scottish ‘Castle of Spite’ that was built in anger by the scandalous Duchess of Sutherland goes on sale for the third time in a decade for £1.5m – and boasts 19 bedrooms, a ballroom, library and its own loch

  • Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland, north west Scottish Highlands, is back on the market after being sold in 2016
  • The 40,000 sq ft property comes complete with a grand hall, ballroom and billiards room – plus 19 bedrooms and its own highland loch…but the ancestral pile has endured a chequered history
  • It dates back to 1905 and was built for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, after the death of her husband
  • The family of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, did not approve of their marriage and contested his fortune
  • Property became known as the ‘Castle of Spite’ as it soaked up funds the Duke’s family had wanted to keep 

A historic Scottish pile that has played host to 21st century royalty and aristocracy – and was built in a fit of spite – has gone on sale for the third time in ten years after refurbishment plans faltered. 

Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland, in the north west Scottish Highlands, has an impressive 19 bedrooms, grand hall, ballroom and billiards room – plus its own loch – but has come to market with a relatively modest price tag of £1.5million.

The sprawling castle home is set in 20 acres and dates back to 1905, when it was built for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland. 

Promising potential buyers stirring views of the Rivers Oyke in one of Scotland’s most beautiful highland regions, Carbisdale was the last castle to be built in Scotland – although it does come with a side serving of malice after it was erected as part of a bitter family disagreement.    

Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland, north west Highlands, which boasts 19 bedrooms, has gone up for sale for the third time in ten years after heavy renovation costs thwarted plans to transform it into a luxury private home or hotel

That view will do! The property has endured a chequered past though, becoming known as the ‘Castle of Spite’ as it soaked up funds the 3rd Duke of Sutherland’s family had wanted to keep following his death. His widow, Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, instead spent his money on building the last castle in Scotland 

The most recent renovations to Carbisdale Castle have seen its grandiose rooms white-washed to give the property a more modern feel but the current owners have now decided to let another purchaser finish the enhancements

Grand plans: another developer who planned to spend £6.5million on transforming the property – a former youth hostel – into a luxury hotel gave up after costs spiralled (How the billiards room currently looks)

Carbisdale was constructed for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, after the death of her husband George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the 3rd Duke of Sutherland. 

His family did not approve of their marriage and after his death they contested his will. Eventually they agreed to give the Duchess a substantial sum of money and build her a castle, as long as it was outside their lands.  

So the Duchess built her castle just outside Sutherland lands, on a hill where it is visible across a huge part of their estate, earning it the nickname the ‘Castle of Spite’.

The clock tower is even missing a clock face on the side facing their estate, as the furious Duchess did not want to give them ‘the time of day’.

After the Second World War, the castle became a backpacker hostel but it has frequently caught the eye of developers who’ve wanted to turn it into a luxury private home or a grandiose hotel.  

A little piece of history: the home was the last castle to be built on Scottish soil and counted aristocrats and even royals amongst its early 21st century visitors 

Beautiful carved marble fireplaces, original to the 1905 building, remain in place in the dining room of the castle


The Duchess (pictured right) built her castle just outside Sutherland lands, on a hill where it is visible across a huge part of their estate, earning it the nickname ‘The Castle of Spite’ 


The 40,000 square feet castle was put on the market in 2014 after it was discovered the castle would require extensive repairs. The photos above showed what it looked like in 2016 after it was last brought to market. Since then, the current owners have painted many of the rooms

How very Bridgerton: The spacious rooms have been used by backpackers to the area for much of the 21st century but the most recent owners hope a developer will try and restore Carbisdale to its former splendour

In 2014, a developer had planned to spend £6.5million transforming the 40,000 square feet property into a luxury hotel, adding a Michelin-star restaurant and revamped gardens to the property, but heavy renovation costs have seen it put back on sale twice since, in 2016 and now in 2021. 

In 2015, the contents of the property – including a collection of statues and paintings – were sold for around £1million – more than the property was worth at the time.   

The new owner will gain 20 acres of land and a loch when they take over control of the B-listed castle, as well as various freestanding marble statues which were not sold off.

The castle also features a library and a minstrel’s gallery – a raised balcony where musicians would play during a feast or ball.    

 In 1945, the castle was gifted to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association and became known as one of the most eccentric UK locations open to backpackers travelling on a shoestring

The late Duke of Sutherland’s family eventually agreed in the early 1900s to give the Duchess a substantial sum of money to build her Carbisdale, as long as it was outside their lands 

The property was built for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, after her husband George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, died

His family did not approve of the marriage and after his death they contested his will. They eventually agreed to give the Duchess a substantial sum of money and build her a castle, as long as it was outside their lands

The new owner will gain 16 acres of land and a loch when they take over control of the B-listed castle

The castle hosted a variety of visitors in the years after it was built. During WWII an agreement was made at Carbisdale between the King of Norway and Russian military chiefs that if they entered Norway they would not stay after the war.

In 1945, the castle was gifted to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association and became known as one of the most eccentric UK locations open to backpackers travelling on a shoestring.

In 2011 the hostel was closed for repairs – but workers discovered further water damage, resulting in it being put up for sale in 2014.  

Estate agent Strutt and Parker, who currently have the property on their website, describe Carbisdale Castle as: ‘One of Highland Scotland’s most iconic Castles providing a world-class residential or commercial development opportunity.’ 

The agency adds the home is ‘an impressive and imposing large mansion house built in the Scottish Baronial style on a precipitous site above the inner Kyle of Sutherland with outstanding views in all directions.’ 

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