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Earl of Sutherland to sell off treasures from iconic Highland landmark Dunrobin Castle

By Mike Merritt

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Dunrobin Castle has been in the same family for seven centuries.
Dunrobin Castle has been in the same family for seven centuries.

It is rare for someone to find this much cash in the attic.

But, then again, not everybody has a loft as large as the Earl of Sutherland’s.

The 25th Earl, Alistair Sutherland, is having a clear out of clutter and has instructed auctioneers to find a home for hundreds of items from the family’s ancestral pile.

Going under the hammer will be paintings, portraits and historic photographs that have been stored at Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie, for decades.

Valuation experts are also poring over marble sculptures, crested dinner services and ‘an array of treasures from the castle’s kitchen and cellar’ as they prepare a catalogue for the sale.

The event will take place in February at the Edinburgh branch of the auction house Bonhams.

Charlie Thomas, director of house sales at Bonhams, said: "The Dunrobin attic sale provides an opportunity to purchase a piece of history from one of Scotland’s grandest and most historic castles.

"Many of the items have been hidden away in the castle for generations and never been seen on the open market before. They provide a wonderful snapshot of what it was like to live upstairs – and downstairs – in the Highlands’ premier ducal palace."

There is still little additional detail of the items the earl is selling or why he has chosen to go to auction.

However, the 73-year-old recently inherited Dunrobin Castle, which has been in the family – in one form or another – for more than seven centuries.

His mother, Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, died last December aged 98 at her home in London, leaving an £18 million will. But ownership of the castle and its 120,000-acre estate passed to the new Chief of the Clan Sutherland, who was born minutes before his twin brother Martin Janson.

Mr Janson was left only £250,000 in the will that his mother wrote three days before she died. By contrast, his sister, Lady Annabel Bainton, was bequeathed £3.5 million.

The earl does not reside at Dunrobin Castle though he has a home only a mile or so away.

The stately home attracts tens of thousands of visitors per year and also offers itself as a wedding venue.

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