Kinross has an intriguing history. Situated beside Lochleven, the largest loch in the Scottish Lowlands is Loch Leven Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567. The tower house where Mary was held is one of Scotland’s oldest and was built in the 1300s. It was from here that she was forced to abdicate the throne in favour of her infant son who later became James VI. Leading actresses Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie play the parts of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I in the Hollywood movie Mary Queen of Scots which was filmed in Scotland.
The Castle Island was also significant during the Wars of Independence with England and was taken by the Scots during a night raid led by William Wallace who was immortalised in the Hollywood movie Braveheart. Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, moved part of the royal exchequer to Loch Leven and stayed at the Castle in 1313 and 1323 and was first to use it as a prison.
Kinross Golf Club was formed in 1884 following a meeting of twenty enthusiasts. The stretch of land known as The Kirkgate which lies alongside Loch Leven was offered by the then resident of Kinross House, Sir Basil Montgomery for the development of a golf course. Tom Morris of St Andrews, a well-respected Open Champion of the 1860s, was commissioned to design the 6 holes of golf course that the acreage allowed and he was paid £3 3s 8d which, even in those days, would have been excellent value for money. Even today, more than 100 years later, there is still evidence from the outline of some of the now filled in bunkers on the Kirkgate ground that a golf course did exist. The golf courses have developed over the years from 9 holes to two 18-hole courses which are excellent examples of Scottish parkland courses. Both courses are still owned and lovingly invested in by the Montgomery family.
Kinross House was regarded as the first stately house in Scotland and is considered to be Sir William Bruce’s greatest masterpiece. Sir William Bruce created the designed landscape and planted the formal gardens ten years before he started construction of the house so that once the house was complete it would be set in a mature landscape. Construction of the house commenced in 1685. Recently restored, the property won the prestigious Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s UK Restoration Award of the Year.
Carnegie Public Library – More than 600 public libraries were built in the UK and Ireland with money donated by Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and one of these was built in Kinross. Carnegie’s libraries were nearly always accessed via a staircase and this symbolised a person’s elevation by learning. Similarly, outside almost every library was a lamppost or lantern which was meant as a symbol of enlightenment. The library building still stands today and you can read the inscription above the entrance.
Cashmere – By 1860 over 600 people were employed in local wool weaving companies. Tradition continued and by the early 1990s Kinross was a world leader in spinning cashmere, turning the hair from 10 million Mongolian goats into yard to make 3 million garments a year. Todd & Duncan still has its factory just as you enter Kinross and you can visit the gift shop and enjoy some light refreshments today.