( Image above is a capture of Dunvegan Castle on Isle of Skye.)
Scotland benefits from a rich legacy of historic castles and fortified houses extending to about 700 in total. These are of interest to a wide range of visitors including:
- Photographers -romantic ruins in the ever changing light conditions.
- Students of architecture-the medieval through to late Victorian.
- Students of battles and history.
- Students of Scotland’s somewhat violent past.
- Visitors wishing to ‘connect’ with a castle associated with a particular family (e.g.Castle Stalker), clan (e.g. Dunvegan on Isle of Skye) or royal dynasty (e.g. Glamis Castle).
The earliest stone castles were built in the mid 12th century, commencing after 1124, and began to proliferate in the 13th century, many being constructed with curtain walls.The castles were principally constructed as residences for the elite and as a statement of wealth, status and power.
Here are some of Scotland’s more noteworthy castles:
- Balmoral: A royal home on Deeside originally purchased by Queen Victoria.. Limited access to the castle but extensive gardens are open to the public during the season.
- Blair Castle , Perthshire: Traditional seat of Duke of Atholl who is the Chief of Clan Murray. Replete with extensive gardens. Can be very busy in summer.
- Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire: A fully furnished L plan castle dating from 1628. Connected with Clan Farquharson.
- Brechin Castle, Aberdeenshire: One of the oldest inhabited dwellings in Scotland. This castle s the seatt of the Earl of Dalhousie, who is the clan chieftain of Clan Maule of Panmure in Angus, and Clan Ramsay of Dalhousie in Midlothian
- Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran: Connected with the Duke of Hamilton who is the Premier Peer (aristocrat) of Scotland as well as being head of the House of Hamilton and House of Douglas.
- Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries: Excellent example of a medieval castle. Connected with Clan Maxwell.
- Castle Campbell, Clackmannanshire: A semi-ruin which dates from the 15th century. Superb location in the Ochills and great for photographs.Connected with Clan Campbell.
- Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire: A ‘Castle of Mar’ dating from 1575. Connected with Clan Fraser and Clan Mackenzie.
- Castle Menzies (pronounced 'Mingies'). Near Aberfeldy in central Scotland. This is the ancestral seat of Clan Menzies.
- Cawdor Castle, Nairn: Dates from around 1370 and via the Thane of Cawdor is notionally connected with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Ancestral home of the Campbells of Cawdor.
- Crathes Castle: A late 16th century tower house with famous garden and yew hedge. Connected with the Burnett family.
- Culzean Castle, Ayrshire: A ‘palace of prosperity’ dating from 1792. Built by Robert Adam for the Kennedy family. Both castle and extensive grounds are open to the public.
- Dean Castle, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire: Tower House and small palace dating from 14th and 15th centuries, built by the Boyd family.
- Dirleton Castle, E. Lothian: A formidable castle dating from the Golden age of Scottish castles in the 12th century. Connected with the Haliburton and Ruthven families.
- Doune Castle, Perthshire: A well preserved 14th century castle famous for featuring in the 1970s film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ and, more recently, 'Outlander'. Connected with the Stewarts and Earls of Moray.
- Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire: A square tower-house dating from the late 13th century. Connected with Clan Irvine.
- Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries: A magnificent palace dating from 1679-91.Seat of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry.
- Duart Castle, Isle of Mull: Dates from 13th century and associated with Clan Maclean.
- Dunnottar Castle: Combined castle and palace now in ruins. Near Aberdeen on east coast. Connected with Clan Keith.Access entails navigating steep pathway.
- Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland: A palace built 1835-50 on an earlier 13th century site.Dunrobin is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland.
- Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye: Connected with Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
- Edinburgh Castle: Very extensive and dating from the 12th century onwards. A 'must see' if in Edinburgh.
- Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands: An iconic, very photogenic castle re-built 1932. Associated with Clan MacRae.
- Glamis Castle, Angus: Closely connected with the Royal Family and a family home.
- Inveraray Castle, Argyll: A magnificent palace completed 1789. This is the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell. Both castle and grounds are open to the public.
- St Andrews Castle: A ruin which dates from 14th century and located on a headland overlooking the sea. Was home to many bishops and archbishops during the medieval period.
- Stirling Castle: Incorporates a royal palace dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Closely connected with the battles of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge.An extensive site with actors in period costume portraying life in the palace.
- Threave Castle, Dumfries: A 14th century stronghold on an island in the River Dee. Associated with the Black Douglases and Scottish royals.
- Urquhart Castle, Highlands: This romantic ruin sits on a promontory in the middle of Loch Ness. However, the castle is interesting in its own right and dates from the 13th century when it was built by the Durwards.