8. The Stag Ballroom

By Lindsay Horsham (@lindsaymhorsham)

Originally built in 1895 as a hunting lodge for the Duke and Duchess of Fife, Mar Lodge stands tall against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, imposing in its size and symmetry. Tucked away to the side, dwarfed by the Lodge and semi-obscured by trees, sits an unusual looking building, its exterior a red-diamond lattice in the estate’s colour: the Stag Ballroom. 

The Ballroom has a multitude of distinctive characteristics, its outside appearance included. It was moved to its current location in 1898 following a fire that destroyed the second Mar Lodge, known as Corriemulzie Cottage, in 1895. Graffiti penned by the workmen who constructed the original and helped to move it can be found inside. It even retains an original Victorian ventilation system. The building’s interior, too, remains virtually unchanged – including the 2,345 red deer stag heads that line the walls and ceilings. Some of the stags date back to the 18th century, and many were stalked by members of the Royal Family during visits to the Lodge. 

The Stag Ballroom offers a jarring peek into the past, a Pandora’s Box of aesthetics and traditions that now often seem dated or macabre. Yet the preservation of the building itself remains impressive – personal opinions on bloodsports and the monarchy aside – and there is something almost delightful in being privy to what is inside a building that often garners nothing more than a remark on its oddity. 

Image credit: Author’s own

Mar Lodge Estate has been owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland since 1995. 

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