Kinnaird Castle

Historic Reconstruction

Case Study

Kinnaird Castle, Angus, Scotland as it stood in 1790

Ben was approached by the family of the Duke of Fife to create a model of Kinnaird Castle, near Brechin in Scotland, as it looked in 1790. This stunning Georgian castle was designed by James Playfair, a contemporary of Sir John Soane for the Baronet David Carnegie in that year. Prior to that there had been a fortified house on the site since the Middle Ages. The castle remained in this configuration for only about 60 years until it was transformed by the 9th Earl into a lavish Victorian Gothic design, executed by the architect David Bryce, which still exists today.

Ben’s job was to recreate the castle in every detail from the design of James Playfair. He spent a few days at the castle as a guest of the current Duke of Fife who showed him his archive of drawings from the period, including a wonderful painting by Lady Agnes Carnegie. Although Agnes was not a professional artist, her watercolour of the house painted shortly after Playfair’s work was completed proved to be extremely accurate. The most useful technical drawing available was in fact a drainage plan, which a Mr. Smith had drafted in 1848. This was accomplished so accurately that he had bothered to include all of the window positions on the floor plan, saving Ben weeks of work. Ben then visited the drawing collection at the Soane museum in London where he was able to piece together the entire building from scraps of proposals and abandoned designs by Playfair held in the archives there. The final result was not just a very detailed architectural model but an entire set of historically accurate drawings.

The model was made at a scale of 1:100 and the base was about 90cm square. The most challenging aspect of creating the model was re-producing the block work pattern on the exterior of the façade. The castle itself was severely damaged by a fire in the 20th century and perhaps the only fortunate aspect of this was that the devastation of the fire revealed a hidden wall from the 18th century design. An Ashlar rendered surface with scribed lines struck into the wall and highlighted with white pigment. By measuring the block pattern on this section of Ben was able to map out the block work for the entire building. The lines were created in the model by using dry transfers custom drawn with every block in its correct position.

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Please call Ben for any enquiries on 020 8766 6822 or 07966 539 861 or email