Feb 5 2010 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
A HIGHLAND Perthshire stronghold is celebrating following the return of a long-lost heraldic shield.
Blair Castle’s colourful shield dates from 1839 and was used in a medieval-style tournament organised by the Earl of Eglinton at Eglinton Castle in Ayrshire.
Lord Glenlyon, who later became the sixth Duke of Atholl, attended the tournament as Knight of the Gael and took a group of 60 Atholl men as his bodyguards.
The brightly coloured shield was probably used as a crest or motif mounted on a pole or tent to represent the presence of the Duke of Atholl.
It depicts the Atholl coat of arms, with the stars representing ‘The Murrays’, the checks on argent representing ‘The Stewarts’ and the three legs representing the Isle of Man.
The shield came up for sale in 2009 as part of a collection of items relating to the Eglinton Tournament, including the knight's shields and a series of watercolours.
James Knox organised the securing of the collection for the nation and the Blair Charitable Trust was delighted to have the chance to buy the original shield.
Sarah Troughton, head trustee of the Blair Charitable Trust, said: “It is wonderful when there is a chance to reunite pieces of an historic collection.
“The Atholl shield is an exciting addition to the display of Eglinton Tournament armour at Blair Castle.”
The shield will join other items from the Eglinton Tournament in the front hall of Blair Castle and will form part of the castle’s permanent exhibition.
The Eglington Tournament is a significant moment in Blair Castle's history as it marks the genesis of the Atholl Highlanders.
Enjoying the extraordinary distinction of being the last remaining private army in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders have a long historic association with Blair Castle.
They were mounted guards for Queen Victoria's visit in 1844 and still parade annually on the castle forecourt in the presence of its present colonel, the 11th Duke of Atholl.