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Knockear or Knockour Castle, Stirling: Designs for a castle-style building for John Buchanan of Ardoch, 1793, unexecuted (7)


John Buchanan of Ardoch (1761-1839) was a Glasgow merchant who had inherited his father’s hat-making business and, like his father, was a partner in one of Glasgow’s oldest banking houses, Ship Bank. He had studied at Glasgow University and in 1785 married Elizabeth Parkes, daughter of John Parkes of Netherton, Worcestershire. He is recorded as a member of the short-lived ‘Pig Club’ in Glasgow, a society for merchants of the sugar trade who derived their wealth from the estates and plantations in the West Indies. He became MP for Dunbartonshire between 1821-26 and was also Deputy Lieutenant of the County. Buchanan inherited the Ardoch estate from his father in 1792, which had been in the family since 1693.

In 1792, Buchanan bought the Knockour Estate which was located to the south of Ardoch facing onto Loch Lomond and included Boturich Castle, a ruinous L-shaped building with crow-stepped gables. In 1793, the Adam office were appointed to create designs for ‘Knockear Castle Fronting toward Loch Lomond’. It is not clear if the designs are for the rebuilding of Boturich Castle or for a separate castle entirely. The designs for the castle are dated towards the end of 1793, after Robert Adam’s death, and have been attributed by King to James Adam. The designs comprise a three-storey crenellated castle-block with a central tower and flanking quadrant links terminating in pavilions, with a large forecourt.

The castle was never executed and in 1800, Buchanan bought the Balloch estate to the south of Boturich and built a new castellated mansion to designs by the English architect Robert Lugar. In 1830, Buchanan sold Balloch Castle and rebuilt Boturich Castle, also to the designs of Lugar, incorporating the existing ruined castle.

A.T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, Volume II, Index, 1922, pp. 20, 64; D. King, The Complete Works of Robert & James Adam and Unbuilt Adam, Volume 2, 2001, pp. 138, 163; J. Irving, Book of Dumbartonshire: A history of the county, burghs, parishes, and lands, memoirs of families, and notices of industries carried on in the Lennox district, Volume 2, 1879, pp. 216, 228, 231-2; J. Strang, Glasgow and its Clubs: Or Glimpses of the Condition, Manners, Characters, and Oddities of the City, During the Past and Present Centuries, 1864, pp. 206-207, 215; D.R. Fisher (ed.) ‘Buchanan, John (1761-1839), of Ardoch and Balloch Castle, Dunbarton’, History of Parliament, online [accessed 14 March 2022; National Record of the Historic Environment, ‘Boturich Castle’, Canmore, online; ‘Knockour Castle’, Canmore, online [accessed 14 March 2022]

Louisa Catt, 2022



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Contents of Knockear or Knockour Castle, Stirling: Designs for a castle-style building for John Buchanan of Ardoch, 1793, unexecuted (7)