Borders, home of
Sir Walter Scott,
full of memorabilia relating to the famous writer
Clackmannanshire, is one of the largest tower houses in Scotland and dates from the 14th century. The Erskine family has owned it since around 1360 and the property is now being managed by the National Trust of Scotland in partnership with Clackmannanshire Council. The House still retains original medieval features such as the dungeon, first-floor well and magnificent oak roof timbers. Fully restored and furnished to a high standard, the Tower contains a unique collection of family portraits and silver on loan from the present Earl of Mar and Kellie. The eight-year restoration programme that recently received a Civic Trust award.
Isle of Skye, is a ruin of a mansion house, not really a castle. The Macdonalds arrived on Skye in 15th century from the Southern Hebrides and stayed at Armadale from the 1650s. Flora MacDonald of Bonnie Prince Charlie fame was married here in 1750. The building of the mansion house was finished by in 1815, but much of it was destroyed by fire in 1855.
Armadale houses the Clan Donald centre and 'The Museum of the Isles' in some of the outbuildings with the exhition of the history of the Scottish Higlands. The Gardens have 40 acres of exotic trees, shrubs and flowers in its gardens dating from the 17th century.
Gorebridge, Lothian, a Georgian Mansion and the home of the Dundas family, who bought the land in 1571. The present house was begun in 1726 and completed in the 1750's on the site of a previous tower house. The architect was William Adam but the building was completed by his son John, brother of the more famous Robert. Arniston contains portraits of the generations of the family from the 16th century up to the present day, by artists including Ramsay and Raeburn.
Fife, was built in 14th century; the chapel was also built that time. Still
lived in by the family of the Laird.
West Dumbartonshire, was first was built in 1238 by the Earl of Lennox and remained the family seat until approximately 1390. Nothing much is left of the moat and the mound where the original castle once stood remain. The present castle was built by John Buchanan in 1808 using the stone from the old castle. Built in the "castle-gothic" style, this listed building was designed firstly as a status symbol and residency and turrets and 'slitted' windows are purely decorative. The castle now houses a visitor centre, which has displays about local history and wildlife. The park is particularly attractive in the spring when the large numbers of rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.
Grampian, beautifully situated by the River Dee was purchased in 1852 by Prince
Albert to be the holiday home of the Royal Family and the present castle was
built 1853-55. The exhibition of paintings and works of art in the ballroom is
open to the public
as well as the grounds and gardens.
ruins of a 15th century tower
with the 1581 addition of a walled courtyard and gatehouse.
Benderloch, Argyll, the 16th Century home of the Campbells of Barcaldine was built by Sir Duncan Campbell (Black Duncan) between 1591 and 1601. The castle saw some very unsettled times and was ruined by the mid 19th Century. In 1896 Sir Duncan Campbell 10th of Barcaldine repurchased the ruined Castle and spent 15 years restoring it for future heirs to enjoy. The present owner Roderick Campbell is now living in the castle with his family offering Argyll's only ancient castle B&B accommodation (graded 4 stars by the Scottish Tourist Board).
14th century stronghold
on a promontory in the Firth of Forth; film location for Hamlet
ancient home of the Earls and Dukes of Atholl
since 1269; famous for the only remaining
in Europe - the Atholl Highlanders. Taking of photographs is allowed inside
this castle, which is a welcome change to the normal rules!
Selkirk, Borders; the estate was granted to the Douglas family in 1322 and
reverted to the Crown in 1450 as a favourite hunting ground; in 1550 the Scott
family became the owners and after a marriage in 1720 between the Scotts and
the Douglases the land was restored to the Douglas-Scott family. The present
owner is John, 9th Duke of Buccleuch; the present house was built in 1812 with
additions in 19th century; an excellent collection of paintings by
Gainsborough, Reynolds, Canaletto, Guardi, Van Dyck
Grampian, near the River Dee, was built in 1628 and rebuilt after the fire of
1689; purchased by the Farquharson in 1732 and still owned by the family.
Largely rebuilt and garrisoned with English troops in 18th century. Spiral
stone staircase leading to the principle rooms;
Grampian, near Nairn, a typical
, was partially burned in 1645 and
remodelled in 1730s with additions
of the present entrance hall and library in the 19th centuries. Fine
furniture, porcelain, paintings and unusual plaster ceilings. Famous for many
varietes of daffodils in Springtime.
Fife, ruins of a
15th century keep
with a courtyard wall with a gate and a corner tower; once a stronghold of the
Balfours of Burleigh, and visited several times by James VI;
Dumfries, ruins of a fine example of a
triangular site stronghold
built by the Maxwell family, besieged by Edward I in 1300; dismantled and
redundant after the 1640 siege;
Sutherland, was built between 1906 and 1917 for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, the widow of 18th Earl of Sutherland, after a long dispute with the Duke's son about the Earl's legacy. In 1933, the castle was bought by Colonel Theodore Salvesen, the wealthy Scottish businessman of Norwegian extraction. Through Colonel Salvesen's consular connections he provided King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V) with a safe refuge at Carbisdale during the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II, and during that time the castle was the venue of an important meeting. Salvesen's son Captain Harold Salvesen inherited the castle and in 1945 he gifted the castle to the Scottish Youth Hostels Association as Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel.
Dollar, Clackmannanshire; the 1st Earl of Argyll (the 2nd Lord Campbell) built in 15th C. this mighty, isolated four-storey rectangular tower house high in the hills above Dollar, 'Gloom Castle' as it was called. In 1489 the Earl persuaded James IV to give approval for changing the castle's name, and since that time it was called Castle Campbell and remained the principal residence of the Argyll Campbells for nearly 200 years. The castle was burned in 1654 by Cromwell, later the Earl was executed, and the Campbells abandoned their castle.
The castle came under the protection of the National Trust for Scotland in 1948.
Weem, Perthshire, is an excellent and large example of a Z-plan
fortified Tower House
with flanking towers at diagonally opposite corners and has been the seat of
the Chiefs of
for over 400 years. In spite of the present extensive restoration works the
castle is kept open to the public during the summer months;
Castle of Mey
Thurso, Caithness, was built between 1566 and 1572 by the 4th Earl of Caithness. In
1952 Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother bought the place, which was in a state of neglect but was beautifully restored during the years.
.In 1996, she created a charitable trust, which took ownership of the castle and the estate, with the intention of securing their future. The Castle is now open to the public during certain summer months.
Moidart, Invernesshire; the ruined castle, the ancestral home of the Macdonalds of Clanranald, is accessible only at low tide along a narrow sandy causeway. It is one of the foremost surviving examples of a 13th century castle in Scotland. The castle was destroyed in 1715 when Clan Chief Allan of Clanranald ordered it to be burnt, probably to prevent it falling into enemy hands when he left to fight for the Jacobite cause. The castle is now owned by a Scottish businessman who is hoping to conserve it through a Trust.
Highlands, a late 14th century private fortress and a real fairy-tale castle
was built around a small living holly tree by the Thanes of Cawdor and is still
the home of the Cawdor family; the name of Cawdor was romantically linked by
Shakespeare with Macbeth.
Grampian, was built about 1530 as a
in one of the
most wild and remote districts
of Scotland to protect its owners and their valuables; it was converted into
Hanoverian troops' barracks in 1748-50 and was returned to private hands in
1802 as a farmhouse having even a whisky distillery there; after WW1 the castle
became derelict and was given into State care in 1961 and was restored with
Grampian, is another Scottish
fairy tale castle
with turrets and gargoyles, built in late16th century; the seat of the family
Burnett of Leys
; fine furniture and painted ceiling; famous for its beautiful
10 miles SE of Edinburgh, was built in 13th century by Crichton family; in the
1580s the Earl of Boswell made lots of improvements transforming the medieval
castle into a remarkable Renaissance residence; Sir Walter Scott has described
the castle in his
"Marmion"; became ruins in 1659 when its masonry was due to financial difficulties of
the owner taken away for other building purposes;
of the Kennedy family includes a
of a romantic castle; destroyed in 1650; fine gardens
Dornoch, Sutherland, was built in 13th C. by the Bishops of Caithness close to the cathedral as a Bishop's palace, not really a fortress, but a comfortable residence. The castle was severely damaged by fire in 1570 and was left as a ruin, until it was restored in the 19th century to make a residence for the Sheriff of Sutherland. In 1970, a southeast wing was added when the castle was bought and made into a hotel, which it is today. Dornoch is famous of its exellent golf-course.
Doune, Stirlingshire, was built in the late 14th C. by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany. The castle looks strong and powerful. The dark stone rises to a high of 30 metres at the gate-tower and the high courtyard walls were protected by wall walks allowing defenders to drop material onto attackers from the walls.
Much of the castle has been restored in recent centuries, but it is still one of the least changed castles in Scotland. Doune is perhaps best known as the castle in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie. By the end of the 18th century it was roofless and falling into ruin. In 1883 the 14th Earl of Moray carried out a restoration, and more repairs were done in the 1970's.
Grampian, was built started with a 13th century keep, to which was later added a
Jacobean mansion house
has belonged to the
for 653 years; fine furniture and paintings, the 16th-century chapel contains
a beautiful stained glass window;
Dumfries & Galloway,
17th century castle
, Dumfriesshire home of
Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry
, renowned collection of paintings by
Leonardo da Vinci
, Rembrandt, Hans Holbein
Banff, Grampian, is one of the most imposing houses in Scotland; was built in
1735-39 for William Duff by William Adam with an unusual dispute about the
bill; the owners of the house had in late 19th century, due to financial
difficulties, to give up it and the house was changed first to an hotel and in
1913 a sanatorium; the Ministry of Works had it fully restored after WW2 and
the Duff House was opened to the public as
an outstation of the National Galleries of Scotland
in April 1995; a remarkable collection of paintings and furniture from
, Strathclyde, stands on a volcanic rock, which has a longer recorded history
as a stronghold than any other place in Britain; was the centre of the
independet British kingdom of Strathclyde from the fifth century until 1018; in
medieval times Dumbarton was an important royal castle; the importance declined
after Cromwell's death in 1658, but continued as a garrison until WW2; most of
its buildings have gone and little has survived from
the old castle
Stonehaven, Grampian, stands on a real
dream of a castle site
- a hard red rock full with a variety of large pebbles and rocks like raisins
in a fruitcake packed there 400 million years ago; in late 14th century Sir
William Keith, the
Marischal of Scotland
built there a tower house, which was later followed by numerous other
fortifications and buildings
; in 1651 the Scottish Crown Jewels were
successfully protected here against Cromwell's army; today the castle is an
impressive and romantic ruin
, "a must for anyone who takes Scottish history seriously"!
Sutherland, has been the property of the Sutherland family since 13th C. and parts of the present castle date from that time. The castle by the North Sea with 189 rooms, a fairy-tale look and a distinct air of "French Scottish" was created during the remodel in 1845-51 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect for the House of Commons in London. When the 5th Duke died in 1963, the house became a boy's boarding school for a period of seven years from the late 1960's before reverting back to being a family house, and it is now lived in by the Countess of Sutherland. Dunrobin is open to the public every day between Easter and September and is well worth a visit. Next to the garden, based on Versailles, there
is a museum containing hunting trophies, taxidermy, fossils, medals, archaeological finds and an important collection of Pictish symbol stones.
Oban, Argyll, built before 1275 with a
high curtain-wall on the rock
by fire in 1810
, when only some of the courtyard buildings survived;
Isle of Skye, now badly ruined, stands on a rocky cliff, overlooking the sea. Duntulm was originally a Pictish fortress, was a long-time residence for the Vikings, but a stone castle was built here around 16th C. by the Macleods and later by the MacDonalds, who abandoned it around 1730. Very little is left of the original castle, which is now owned by the council. There are plans to rebuild the walls and make the whole building safer for visitors, to purchase land for on-site car parking and improving the footpath to the site.
Isle of Skye, has been the stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years and it remains their home. Parts of the castle are thought to date from the ninth century, but building work has been carried out in almost every century since the 13th C. when the MacLeods moved in. The Castle consists of a massive keep, a 15th-century tower and a hall block from the 17th century. The castle was completely remodelled, with ornamental turrets and modern battlements, in the 19th century.
The Castle and its Garden are open all year round and seven days a week. On display are many fine oil paintings and mementos of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Clan MacLeod and there is an exhibition about St.Kilda Islands.
Lothian, high up on the volcanic rock; Crown Room with the Scottish Royal crown
and other regalia. It is not the most beautiful of the Scottish Castles, but it certainly is Scotland's most famous castle, number one tourist attraction with one million visitors every year!
Eilean Donan Castle
Kyle of Lochals, Highlands, was built during Scotland's Alexander II's reign (1214-1250). His son Alexander III gave the castle to Colin Fitzgerald, the predecessor of Clan MacKenzie. In 1719 the castle was defeated by the four English frigates and fell to ruins for 200 years. Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap and Farquhar MacRae rebuilt the castle between 1912 and 1932 at a cost of £250,000.
. Each detail was faithful to the original plan. The countryside surrounding Eilean Donan is of exceptional beauty and grandeur, with breathtaking mountain, loch and forest scenery. Eilean Donan Castle is owned by the Conchra Charitable Trust. The principal activity of the Trust is the preservation of the Castle and to keep it open to the public.
Fife, was built in early 16th century and was used as a
by several Stuart monarchs; the palace has one of the
world's oldest 'Real Tennis' courts
still in use;
Kelso, Borders, the
Duke of Roxburghe
; see the article of
IN BRITAIN, April 1997
Grampian, was started in the 13th century, but the south front's five round
towers were each built in a different century by one of the families who lived
there; this glorious castle has fashionable plasterwork and panelling, the
haunted Wheel Staircase
and there are portraits by Romney, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Hoppner, and
Raeburn; in 1889 Alexander Forbes-Leith, later Lord Leith of Fyvie, used the
fortune he had made in the American steel industry to buy the estate and
restore Fyvie to be one of the richest castles in Scotland;
, Edinburgh, represents urban Scottish
from 17th century.
Angus, home of the
family of the Strathmore and Kinghorne
since 1372, the childhood home of
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
and the birthplace of The Princess Margaret; building of
the present castle
started about 1400; magnificent palace-like rooms with fine plasterwork
ceilings; an interesting museum called "The Family Exhibition"; extensive park
with Italian Garden
Lothian, home of the Wemyss-Charteris family, designed by
, completed in 1800, Italian renaissance
Grampian; this sophisticated, classic English-style Palladian mansion by
William Adam was built in 1730s for William, 2nd Earl of Aberdeen, on the site
of an old tower house; the splendid interior is from 1880s;
Borders, was built in 15th century on the site of the in 1242 built timber
castle and looks like a fortified manor house instead of a great stronghold;
in the much disputed Liddesdale near the
border between England and Scotland
has witnessed many wars in this rather isolated and lonely valley; was ruined
in the beginning of 17th century and partly restored in the 19th century;
Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse
Fife, was built in 1906 for a Dundee industrialist, Frederick Sharp, and is a
perfect setting for his notable collection of French and Chippendale furniture
and also fine paintings by Raeburn, Ramsay and Dutch artists;
Lothian, an Adam
, paintings by Rubens, Teniers, Canaletto, Titian; museum souvenirs Australia
House of Dun
Montrose, Fife, a William Adam
built in 1730 for David Erskine, Lord Dun; modernised in 19th century by John
Erskine Kennedy-Erskine and was the home of the Erskine family until WW2, after
which it was changed to an hotel; the house was bequeathed to the National
Trust for Scotland in 1980, completely restored and reopened to the public in
1989 by H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother;
Violet Jacob, the Poet and Author (1863-1946)
was born here as the daughter of William Henry Kennedy-Erskine;
House of The Binns
Lothian, the home of the Dalyell family since 1612, when it was built by Thomas
Dalyell, an Edinburgh butter merchant; fine Italian-style plasterwork and a
collection of family paintings; was gifted to The National Trust for Scotland
Pertshire, was built as a tower house in late 15th century by the
; another tower was built in 16th century and the space between the two towers
was built a century later to make the castle look more like a regular country
mansion; known for its painted ceilings from 1540
of the Duke of Argyll's family, the senior branch of the Campbell Clan;
the present castle
, a large classical mansion with corner towers and turrets, was built in
1741-85 to replace the earlier fortified keep; the famous Armoury Hall contains
1300 pieces; the French tapestries were made especially for the Castle; fine
examples of Scottish and European furniture, china, silver and family artifacts;
Fort William, Invernesshire, the badly ruined castle was built in the 13th C. by the Comyns of Badenoch. It was bombarded in the spring of 1746 by Jacobites, but could not be taken. It was garrisoned until 1866, after which most of it was demolished.
Confusion is sometimes caused by a 19th Century luxury hotel under the name "Inverlochy Castle", which is only two miles north of the old castle.
Inverness, Highlands, a neo-Norman castle built in 1836 now stands on the site of an 11th century royal stone enclosure fortress, which was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746. The Castle contains the offices of local government and law courts. In the Drum Tower there is an exhibition about the castle story and is open daily during the summer season.
by Loch Awe in Argyll; the
keep of the castle
was built in 1440 Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, founder of the Breadalbane
family; later centuries the castle was extended large enough even to house
three companies of soldiers; was abandoned in 1760 and ruined, but some
restoring work is going on now;
Edinburgh, Lothian, the magnificent remains of the
great royal palace
; the previous castle on the site was built form timber and earth and was
distroyed by fire in 1424 and the modern royal residence was built to be
complete in 1513; later one of the finest Renaissance facades in Scotland was
completed here in 1624; Linlithgow Palace is perhaps best known as the
Mary, Queen of Scots
, but it was the favoured residence of many of the Stuart monarchs; in 1745 the
Bonnie Prince Charlie
stayed here and troops of the Duke of Cumberlands army were billeted in the
palace leaving it burning in February 1746; it has been an impressive ruin ever
Loch Leven Castle
Fife, a castle on an island of lake Loch Leven was started as a wooden Castle
in 1290s being an English fortification; the ownership of the castle was
changed many times between the Scots and the English; in 1350 the
stone tower house
was added to the Castle and later a stone courtyard wall; in 1567
Mary, Queen of Scots
, was a
prisoner at the Castle
for almost a year; the Castle was abandoned in 1690 and is a ruin;
Borders, is said to be a product of the best craftsmanship and highest domestic
sophistication the Edwardian era had to offer when it was built for Sir James
Miller in 1903-05; when architect John Kinross enquired as to how much he could
spend on building, he was told that "it simply doesn't matter" and the building
with no expense spared; as an example there is a unique and recently restored silver staircase; also
the magnificent stables and the marble dairy
are something quite unrivaled in Britain; the father of James Miller, William
Miller, made a fortune trading hemp and herrings with the Russians in 1860s and
Dumfries & Galloway, built in 1370;
of the ballad was born here in 1682
outstanding interior, classical library
Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, is a small three storey tower house dating to the late 16th century, the wing of which was extended in the early 17th century to form a long block.
Here was born in 1572 Sir William Alexander, James VI's Lieutenant for the Plantation of Nova Scotia. The castle later fell into disrepair and was threatened with demolition in the 1950s. It was finally saved and partly converted into flats. Today Menstrie Castle resembles a large manor house and comprises local housing as well as a commemoration room to the baronets of Nova Scotia.
The Castle is administered by The National Trust for Scotland.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Edinburgh, stands on the site of a monastry that was founded in 1128. In 1501 James IV cleared the ground close to the Abbey and built a Palace for himself and his bride, Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII). Mary, Queen of Scots spent most of her turbulent life in the Palace - a dramatic and often tragic chapter in the history of the building. She married two of her husbands in the Abbey. Her private secretary David Rizzio was murdered in her personal rooms by a group led by her husband Lord Darnley, who believed she was having an affair with Rizzio.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is now the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II when she is in Scotland, and she is usually in residence for a few weeks in May and July each year. The rest of the year parts of the palace is usually open to visitors with guided tours available and several rooms in the State Apartments can be visited.
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Borders, was built by the Adam brothers in 1758 for the young Patrick Home it is perhaps the finest example of 18th century Palladian Country houses in Britain. Within it's walls you will find one of the most magnificent collections of original Chippendale furniture in Britain alongside the largest picture gallery in a Scottish Country House, as Paxton now houses over 70 paintings from the National Galleries of Scotland.The House lies in the heart of 80 acres of landscaped gardens, parkland and woodland. There are riverside walks along the banks of the Tweed.
Glasgow, is the ancestral home of the Maxwells of Pollok, who have lived on this site for 700 years. The present house, which replaced three earlier structures, was begun in 1747 and was extended from 1890. The house, the historic jewel at the heart of Pollok Park, contains much original furniture as well as some of the finest Spanish paintings in Britain. A rare survival is the magnificent suite of servants' quarters, which shows the scale of country house life around 1900. The famous Burrell Collection is only a short walk from the Pollok House.
Queen Mary's House
Jedburgh, Borders, was visited by Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart, 1542-1587)
for four weeks in October 1566. The House is a popular museum with many
relics, tapestries, oil paintings, furniture, arms and armour of the Queen.
Pertshire; the home of the
for 400 years was built in 1580 on the old crowning site of Scottish Kings and
extensively rebuilt in 1804; the Palace houses unique collections of
, French furniture, clocks, porcelain
Sinclair & Girnigoe Castles
Wick, Caithness, the ruins of two castles next to each other: Girnigoe Castle, the ancient seat of the Earls of Caithness was finished in 1495 on the site of an earlier Viking keep by William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl. In 1609, the 4th Earl extended the site by building a more luxurious castle, Sinclair, adjoining Girnigoe. These two castles were separated by a rock cut ravine spanned by a collapsible wooden bridge. During the war between the Campbells of Glenorchy and the Sinclairs starting 1680 the castle were attacked with cannon becoming uninhabitable as a result of the shelling. The Sinclairs moved their main seat to the Castle of Mey. In paintings from the 18th century, it is clear the the majority of the collapse of the Castles was due to a lack maintenance and the powerful winter storms. They are noted as being abandoned by 1700. The Wick Society has started planning of repairs to the Castles.
Kelso, Borders, was built by
in 15th century on
a high rocky hill
, was sold 1645 to the Scotts, the ancestors of Sir Walter Scott; in well
preserved tower there are exhibitions of tapestry and costume depicting
characters from Sir Walter Scott's 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders'
Scottish Royal Residence
, maybe the grandest of all Scotland's castles with outstanding architecture;
strong links with Mary Queen of Scots who was crowned here in 1543
14th century stronghold
Douglases, magnificent view
across the Firth of Forth to the Bass Rock
Lauder, Borders; the home of
the Maitland family
throughout its long history;
the present castle
was built in 1590 and remodelled in 1670s and 1840s; fine 17th century
ceilings, large collection of historic toys, country life exhibitions; the venue of Scottish Horse Trials.
Aberdeenshire, Grampian, was built for the Forbes family in 1420, the tower was
enlarged in 1580s and was amongst the finest of its day; due to difficulties
the estate had to be sold in 1716, and became simply a farmhouse, which was
abandoned in 1850s;
were transferred into State care in 1929
Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited
house in Scotland, where 27 Scottish and English monarchs have visited, now
home of Catherine Maxwell Stuart family. Traquair is one of the
Great Houses of Scotland
, has its
own house brewery
, and provides
accommodation for visitors
Loch Ness, Invernesshire, now only a ruin, was built around 1230, invaded by Edward I of England in 1296, seized by the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, in 1395, and garrisoned in 1689 it was blown up in 1692 to prevent it becoming a military stronghold. Most of the existing buildings date from the 14th century and include the Grant Tower the best-preserved part of the complex.
The excellent visitor centre was opened in 2002. This is built into the hillside beside and below the main road and offers ample parking, a shop, cafe, educational audio-visual displays and a model showing the castle in earlier, less ruinous days.