Kinross is a burgh in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is a fairly small town, formerly the county town of Kinross-shire that can boast some attractive buildings. Abolished in 1975, Kinross-shire became part of the former Tayside Region and since 1996 it has been part of Perth and Kinross council area. Originally, it was the 2nd smallest Scottish county, and the smallest in terms of population. Situated in the heart of gently rolling hills Kinross-shire is the ideal place for hill walking, golf, cycling, fishing, bird watching or just relaxing and enjoying the beauty of Scotland. Known as the gateway to the Highlands, Kinross-shire nestles around Loch Leven Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567 on Castle Island.
For a small county Kinross-shire is rich in history as well as amazing and stately buildings. Although the county suffered a decline in population in the 19th century, nowadays tourism has increased, with visitors attracted by its sights and unspoiled country nature.
Among the Kinross sights a special attraction has been gained by Loch Leven Castle and Kinross House, an Italian Renaissance style mansion built for James II of England in 1685.
Since 1328, Loch Leven Castle had been listed as one of the Royal Castles along with Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton. Loch Leven Castle was the ancient stronghold of the Douglas Family, having been granted to them by King Robert II in 1372. In 1335 Loch Leven Castle was one of only 3 or 4 strongholds which had not fallen to the English.
For much of the 14th century, Loch Leven Castle served as a State Prison. Being a prison, this Castle had rather long list of well-known history figures. John of Lorn, the Lord Admiral, was imprisoned there by Robert the Bruce after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. A bit later, in 1368, the Steward of Scotland (King Robert II) and his son Alexander, the notorious "Wolf of Badenboch", were prisoners there. Archibald, Earl of Douglas and Patrick Graham, the first Archbishop of St Andrews also were Loch Leven Castle inmates. But the Castle is perhaps best known for having been the prison to Mary Queen of Scots for almost one year (1567-1568). With the lowering of the water level in the Loch by 4 feet or nearly 1.5 meters between 1826 and 1836, the Castle Island occupies about 8 acres and is about 4 times the size that it was in ancient times.
Another one Kinross sight is mentioned above Kinross House, located on the east side of Kinross, opposite Loch Leven Castle. Kinross House is one of the earliest of Scotland's country houses, owned and built by Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710). Kinross House is the representative of a classically elegant Palladian mansion boasting a magnificent formal garden. Bruce began work on the gardens by 1679. Unfortunately, he didn't manage to complete his original plan of the house because of finding himself out of favor and having certain financial strait. In 1777 Kinross House was sold to George Graham who had made his money trading with India.
The death of Thomas Graham in 1819 led to Kinross House falling into decay. It remained unoccupied for the next 80 years and the gardens became an overgrown wilderness. Thus, when in 1902 Sir Basil Montgomery inherited the building, it had hardly changed since it was built. Since 1902 Kinross House estate saw its sensitive restoration of house as well as gardens.
Nowadays Sir Basil's sensitive and imaginative reconstruction of the gardens has been appreciated at their true value - his gardens are ranked as the finest formal gardens in Scotland.
The gardens are open to the public during the summer.