POIGNANT images reveal the sad decline of a once magnificent farm house on the estate where SAS founder David Stirling was born.
The legendary war hero was born in 1915 on the family’s Keir estate near Stirling and would have been familiar with the A-listed Keir Home Farm, which is notable for its ornate carvings.
Stirling went on to form the SAS, which played a key role in helping to defeat the Nazis during the Second World War, and a statue of him stands on the estate.
But the 1832 farm house is in a shocking state of disrepair with much of the roof gone, plants growing among the fine architectural details, stone walls cracked and the interior rotting away.
A photographer from the website Forgotten Scotland has released haunting pictures of the decay he found at Keir Home Farm on a recent visit.
The images show a tree which has been able to grow through the stone lintel above one of the windows. In another, a large section of the roof is missing, through which part of a stone tower can be glimpsed.
Elsewhere, a handsome clock tower is slowly being grown over by moss and grass, while plants sprout from the stonework next to intricate carvings of farm animals.
Inside is a scene of devastation with piles of rotting wallpaper and plaster lying on the floor and a still-intact staircase carpeted with mouldering debris.
The photographer, Forgotten Scotland on instagram, said the visit made him think of a “time when a young David Stirling would have enjoyed a simpler, more peaceful life before the war”.
He asked: “How many farm houses in Scotland are A-Listed and designed with such detail and grandeur for what was essentially a purely practical building?
“As I walked throughout the rooms, barns and cattle holdings it was fascinating to see how farming used to be in last century. A small scale farm but with a large reputation for quality.”
He added: “My hope is that Keir House Farm can be saved, possibly by being converted into a small collection of cottages. It certainly is sad to see such a beautiful building go to waste.
“Meanwhile nature continues to takeover and it slowly crumbles with each passing year. Trees continue to grow higher than the buildings themselves, whilst the only lodgers are the pigeons.”
The farmhouse has been declared at risk by Stirling Council and the Building at Risk register for Scotland logs the owners as Blackford Farms Ltd, who have not responded to requests for comment.
The farm house sits in the Stirling estate, south of Dunblane, that was sold to Emirati businessman Mahdi Al Tajir for £2m in 1975.
The Stirling family motto – “Gang Forward” – is displayed prominently throughout.
During the second world war, Stirling realised that a small group of well-trained men would have a devastating effect on the enemy forces.
The first SAS mission took heavy casualties, 34 out of 55 men were killed, and Stirling decided that they would no longer parachute into battle but would cross the north African desert in vehicles and at night.
Legendary German commander Erwin Rommel described Stirling as the “Phantom Major” after he was captured in January 1943. Stirling, naturally, escaped but was re-captured by Italian forces.
He attempted four more escapes before being sent to Colditz Castle in August 1944 for the remainder of the war.
The SAS are attributed with destroying over 250 vehicles in North Africa under Striling’s 18 month stewardship and proved to cause havoc behind enemy lines. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery described Stirling as “mad, quite mad” but commented that men like Stirling were needed in a time of war.