Ruin and rotunda
Scotland’s leading architect in the first half of the eighteenth century, William Adam, also established the nation’s largest building firm and was a supplier of building materials with warehouses in Leith, Edinburgh’s port. But in an era before industrialisation, land ownership remained the principal indicator of status, wealth and influence, and he came from just a minor landed family. Professional and commercial success enabled William to purchase an estate near Kinross in 1731 within a day’s journey from Edinburgh, to which he added a new house later that decade. In 1740, he acquired the adjacent Dowhill Castle to the north, adding both land and history to his estate. Emphasising his enhanced status, William associated his family with his estate by renaming it Blair Adam, while his second son styled himself ‘Robert Adam of Dowhill’ after he inherited the northern section of the estate on his father’s death in 1748.