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Craig Anderson reports
"Dornoch is not unused to celebrities popping in"
 real 56k

Friday, 8 December, 2000, 12:27 GMT
Loch, stock and Dornoch
Skibo Castle
Skibo means "place of peace" in Gaelic
One of Scotland's most tranquil and beautiful areas is bracing itself for the wedding of pop superstar Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie.

The world's media is descending on Dornoch, in Sutherland, for the big day on 22 December.

The couple's banns of marriage have been posted at the registrar's office in Dornoch and it is expected they will wed at Skibo Castle.

It is thought that the couple will also christen their son at Dornoch Cathedral.

Skibo interior
Skibo was formerly home to Andrew Carnegie
The decision to marry in Scotland was thought to have been inspired by Ritchie - director of the hit movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - who claims Scottish heritage.

The historic royal burgh is nestled between the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet nature reserve.

The town of Dornoch is also close to the Sutherland hills and its focal point, Dornoch Cathedral, dates back to the 13th century.

Skibo Castle was home to the Scots-American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

The philanthropic millionaire bought the historic building for 85,000 in 1897 and spent thousands more on restoration and furnishing.

He stayed there until 1914 before returning to the United States.

'Heaven on earth'

Set in a 7,500-acre estate, the castle was often described by Carnegie as "heaven on earth".

This view is said to hold with its ancient Gaelic name Schytherbolle, which translates as fairyland or place of peace.

Skibo Castle is a major visitor attraction and offers five-star castle and lodge accommodation, with an original marble pool, gymnasium facilities and on-site golf course.

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See also:

07 Dec 00 | Scotland
Madonna confirms Scottish wedding
06 Dec 00 | Scotland
Hot gossip on Madonna's wedding
22 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Madonna to wed Ritchie
11 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Madonna's baby arrives early
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