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Atholl or Athole (Gaelic: Athall and Old Gaelic Athfhotla) is a large historical highland district which forms the northern part of Perthshire, bordering the districts of Marr in Aberdeenshire, Badenoch in Inverness-shire, Breadalbane and Strathearn in Perthshire and Lochaber in Inverness-shire.

Atholl covers an area of about 450 square miles. The Highland railway bisects it diagonally from Dunkeld to the borders of Inverness-shire. It is traversed by the Grampian mountains and watered by the waters of the Tay, Tummel, Garry, Tilt, Bruar and other streams. Glen Garry and Glen Tilt are the chief glens, and Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel the principal lakes.

The only cultivable soil occurs in the valleys of the large rivers, but the deer-forest and the shootings on moor and mountain are among the most extensive in Scotland. It is said to have been named Athfotla after Folia, son of the legendary Pictish king Cruithne, and was under the rule of a mormaer until the union of the Picts and Scots under Kenneth Macalpine in 843.

Towns and villages

The main towns and villages of Atholl are Dunkeld, Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, Aberfeldy, Ballinluig, Logierait, and Weem.

Duke of Atholl

Atholl now gives its name to a Duke: The Duke of Atholl's seats are Blair Castle and Dunkeld House. The first recorded Earl of Atholl was Matad at some time in the 12th century. In 1703 the Earl was elevated to a Duke by Queen Anne. The title also holds numerous subsidiary titles. These include: Marquess of Atholl (created 1676), Marquess of Tullibardine (1703), Earl of Atholl (1629), Earl of Tullibardine (1606 and 1676), Earl of Strathtay and Strathardle (1703), Viscount of Balquhidder (1676), Lord Murray of Tullibardine (1604), Lord Murray, Balvenie and Gask (1676) and Baron Percy (1722).

The Earls of Atholl once held extensive jurisdiction in Atholl; their hereditary jurisdiction and right to courts were ended in 1746 by the Heritable Jurisdictions Act, and the sheriff of Perthshire assumed full jurisdiction.