Strathconon, Muir of Ord, Ross-shire, IV6 7QG
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Historical Background of Scatwell and the Glen.

The name Scatwell has Norse origins and is thought to mean a place for paying tribute or tax - "skat" meaning tax and "vollr", a field,  but another theory is that it derives from the word "skati" meaning large timber or logs. Whatever the meaning, no evidence for settlement by Norse people has ever been found and it is generally thought that the area of Ross-shire was visited by Norse peoples from Sutherland and Caithness for the purpose of exploiting the timber resources only, Many of the Norse placenames in the Ross-shire area seem to be connected with trees and timber.


Land Ownership

Scatwell is first mentioned, together with Strathconon, in a royal charter of land made to the Mackenzies in 1528. Kenneth Mackenzie, second son of Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Coigeach, tutor of Kintail, was the progenitor of the cadet branch of the Mackenzies of Scatwell. 

Kenneth Mackenzie, 1st of Scatwell, had a sasine of Little Scatwell in 1619. He died at Lochluichart in 1662 and 3 sons succeeded him in turn. The 3rd son, also Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, 4th of Scatwell (d1729) was created 1st Baronet of Nova Scotia (and Scatwell) in 1703, he acquired lands on the Black Isle at Avoch and at Findon. A dweling house was built at Findon and the family moved there from Lochluichart in 1696, the Mackenzies of Scatwell were never to reside in Strathconon again. in the 1790s they built a new mansion at Avoch, the original Rosehaugh House. James Wemyss, 5th Baron of Scat well (1770-1843) succeeded to the title in 1811 and became MP for the county of Ross in 1824 and Lord Lieutenant of Ross in 1826.

The first half of the 19th century was a difficult time for the old order of landowners and from 1831-32 the lands of Scatwell and Lochluichart began to be broken up. Meikle Scatwell, on the south side of the river, was sold in 1832 and eventually passed to Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth c.1844. Little Scatwell and Lochluichart, on the north side of the river, were still owned by Sir James John Randoll Mackenzie (1814-1884), 6th Baron of Scatwell and Rosehaugh, son of Sir James Wemyss, but he had an extravagant lifestyle and following improvements to both Scatwell and Rosehaugh Estates incurred considerable debts. He sold Little Scatwell c.1849. Kinlochluichart and Glenmarksie followed in 1853 and he was declared bankrupt in 1864. In 1849 the estate of Meikle Scatwell had been bought by Capt John Douglas who, in 1850 built Scatwell House, adapting it, it is thought, from the old Drovers Inn built before 1800. He died in 1852 and his widow, Jemima, continuing at Scatwell House, extended the estate by purchasing the lands of Auchonachie, Cabaan in Glen Orrin and Little Scatwell in 1853. For a time the two estates were united again. Mrs Douglas established a school and "made generous distribution of comforts to her tenantry". In addition she was responsible for the schoolmaster's salary and house. But in 1857 the two estates were split again when John Murray of Touchadam and Polmaise purchased Little Scatwell.

William James Bell had possession of Scatwell House in 1864 through to 1892 and was responsible for introducing one of the earliest hydro electric schemes to the Highlands. He established a system of electric light in Scatwell House in 1889 and may also have established a field telephone system, over the hill to Cabaan Lodge in Glen Orin (local knowledge). We do however know for the certain that he built a new bridge in 1890, 3 kms east of Scatwell House, the Black Bridge.

Lord Woolavington owned Scatwell from 1890s to 1920s, He laid out the woodland and formal garden in their present form. Sir William Cross (Coates Cross Family of Paisley), became owner in 1930s and again the property came back to the Woolavington family, as his daughter Catherine married Sir Reginald Macdonald Buchanan (1905-1985) who eventually bought the house in the 1950s. 

The Macdonald Buchanans were involved in Whisky Distilling, even supplying to the Houses of Parliament. The famous Black and White was one of his brands.

His son, James Macdonald Buchanan established in the Glen coming from England and built Strathconon House about 1985 where he moved. Then he sold Scatwell House to Robin and Diana Fremantle in 1986 who lived there for seven years after retirement in England. (his family came from Newtonmore).

In 1994, property was acquired by the Scott Dennis MacLeod (Nov 1939 – April 2019) born at Hemsdale, was involved mainly with the mining Industry in Canada and South Africa. Also major funder of the Scottish National Party (SNP).  His South African wife Glynis effected new decoration in the house, and they upgraded plumbing and heating. 

After eleven years living in the house, they moved to Vancouver Island in Canada and sold the property and lands surrounding to Mr. Andrew Redmayne, who in only more than one year split the property, keeping the house with 22 acres of land, how is nowadays. And was sold to Philip and Maria Lawson from Perth in 2006. 

The current owners had the opportunity to purchase the house and gardens in 2009, after being much impressed by how quiet and beautiful were the garden and grounds with its Victorian Lodge so full of history.


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Strathconon, Muir of Ord, Ross-shire, IV6 7QG
+34 659 99 12 06
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