Nothing beats the view and is as romantic as a Scottish castle on a steep cliff next to the ocean, on the shores of a Highland Loch or standing proud on a hill overlooking wonderful landscape and majestic gardens. Scottish Castles include some of the oldest and most well known castles in the World. During the Norman period the Wooden Motte and Bailey castles were built and in the late 11th century and 12th century they became the massive stone fortresses, still to be seen in Scotland. By the 14th century the tower-house castles, such as Corgarff and Graigievar were adopted consisting of a high tower with thick walls which were surrounded by other buildings including the great hall, kitchens, stables etc which were all made of wood.
In later centuries the castles changed shape to adept to the use of different weapons such as guns and cannons. Holes were inserted into castle walls for defence and later castles were turned into artillery forts and garrisons were introduced. By the 18th century Scottish castles were built purely as luxury homes or sometimes palaces. These romantic Fairytale castles were designed in the Georgian Victorian Baronial styles. These Scottish great homes were built for luxury, not defensive purposes.
… is one of the most beautiful and renowned castles in Scotland. Known as the Pearl of the North, it is located in the heart of Speyside, near to the famed whisky distilleries of Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas and Glenlivet. Surrounded by majestic hills, and with the tumbling waters of the Rivers Spey and Avon flowing through the grounds, the setting is truly magnificent. Official website…
… set amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside, in the shadows of Lochnagar is the Balmoral Estate which was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848. Balmoral Estate has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Estate covers about 20,000 hectares (just over 50,000 acres) acres of heather clad hills, ancient Caledonian woodland, policies and of course the beautiful River Dee is nearby. During August, September and October the grounds, gardens and exhibitions are closed to the Public as The Royal Family are in residence. In other periods of the year there is a limited possiblity to visit only certain rooms of the castle for obvious reasons. Official website….
… this rambling, turreted castle has been titleered and extended so often in its 700-year history that it now provides a unique insight into the history and changing tastes of aristocratic life in the Highlands. Queen Victoria visited this castle in 1844. This castle maintains a private army, the Atholl Highlanders, still in existence. Official website…
… is situated on the Isle of Arran near the village of Brodick. Brodick Castle’s history can be traced back as far as the Vikings. The Castle and gardens were acquired by the National Trust for Scotland from the Lady Jean Fforde in 1958, in lieu of death duties upon the death of her mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Montrose. The castle is open to the public during the summer, with Brodick Country Park open all year round.
… stands in rich Morayshire parkland. Dating from the 16th century, Brodie has unusual plaster ceilings, a major art collection and tells the fascinating story of the Brodie family. There is a woodland walk with a large pond and a nature trail with access to wildlife observation hides. In springtime the grounds are carpeted with many varieties of daffodils for which Brodie Castle is rightly famous. Brodie Castle is off the A96 24 miles east of Inverness.
… dates from the late 14th century and was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. Although the House has evolved over 600 years, later additions mainly of the 17th century were all built in the Scottish vernacular style with slated roofs over walls and crow-stepped gables of mellow local stone. This style gives Cawdor a strong sense of unity, and the massive, severe exterior belies an intimate interior that gives the place a surprisingly personal, friendly atmosphere. Official website…
… standing forlorn on the vast expanse of the Highlands, this tower castle housed the English militia in their constant fight against the illegal distilleries and whisky distributors before the tax laws were changed allowing for legal distilleries.
… This fairytale castle, a fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture, seems to have grown naturally out of the rolling hills. The great tower stands just as it did when completed in 1626. The castle is home to a fine collection of family portraits. Craigievar Castle is 26 miles west of Aberdeen on the A980.
… The first written reference to a Tower House at Culzean dates to the 1400’s. The recorded history of Culzean properly starts in 1569 when Sir Thomas Kennedy was given the Culzean estates by his brother, the 4th Earl of Cassillis. In the 18th century Culzean Castle was transformed from a relatively modest tower house into a neoclassical mansion. Culzean is situated on the South Ayrshire coast, just off the A719, Culzean Castle is located 12 miles south of Ayr and 4 miles west of Maybole. Official website…
… The combination of a 13th-century square tower, a Jacobean mansion house and the additions of the Victorian lairds make Drum Castle unique among Scottish castles. Inside, enjoy superb furniture, fine paintings and magnificent views from the battlements of the Forest of Drum and the countryside beyond. Outside, explore the beautiful Garden of Historic Roses, woodland trails and a children’s playground. Drum Castle is 10 miles west of Aberdeen and is signposted off the A93.
… The magnificent Drumlanrig Castle, constructed from distinctive pink sandstone, was commissioned in 1691 by William Douglas, the first Duke of Queensberry and represents one of the first and most important Renaissance buildings in the country. The Country Estate boasts dedicated waymarked paths and woodland trails for wildlife enthusiasts, walkers and mountain bikers of all abilities, while field sports and fishing have long been synonymous with Drumlanrig Castle. Official website…
… stands proudly on a clifftop guarding the Sound of Mull. Duart castle enjoys one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the West Coast of Scotland. In 1691 the Macleans surrendered Duart and all their lands on Mull to the Duke of Argyll. The Castle, although in a fairly ruinous condition was used as a garrison for Government troops until 1751. It was then abandoned until 1910 when it was purchased by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief. He then set about the enormous task of restoring the building. Official website…
… Dunnottar Castle is located close to Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, on the east coast of Scotland. Dunnottar Castle was the home of the Earls Marischal of Scotland, once one of the most powerful families in the land. The castle has a dramatic location on a hill top close to the North Sea, with high cliffs falling down on three sides of the castle. Official website…
… has been called home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century and was first mentioned as a stronghold of the family in 1401. The Earldom of Sutherland was created in 1235 and a castle appears to have stood on this site since then. It was encased by a series of additions from the 16th century onwards. In 1785 a large extension was constructed. Remarkably this early keep still survives, much altered, within the complex of these later extensions, making Dunrobin one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland. Official website…
… has been the stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years and it remains their home. Built on a Rock once surrounded entirely by stitle water, it is unique in Scotland as the only house of such antiquity to have retained its family and its roof throughout the centuries. Official website…
… an assemblage of buildings dating from the 12th to the 20th century. A royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. After the Union of Parliament in 1707, the Scottish regalia was walled in the Palace. The Stone of Destiny is housed here. This castle is the national symbol of Scotland. Official website…
… is probably the most photographed and visited castle in Scotland. Though the island of Eilean Donan has been a fortified site for at least 800 years, the present building largely dates from the early 20th century. Today’s castle, which rose from the ruins of its predecessor, was re-built between 1912 and 1932 by Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap. Official website…
… situated on the fringe of Kelso Town and on the River Tweed, it is the home of the Duke of Roxburghe. Designed by William Adam in 1721, it was enlarged and embellished by the Edinburgh architect William Playfair, from 1837-1847. This castle houses an outstanding collection of fine art and Brussels and Gobelins tapestries. Official website…
… Ghosts, legends and folklore are all woven into the tapestry of Fyvie Castle’s 800-year history. Tradition claims that the castle’s five successive families – Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Forbes-Leith – each added a tower to this magnificent Scottish Baronial fortress. You can see their influences today among the medieval stones and the lavish Edwardian interiors, and imagine what castle life must have been like for the families and their royal guests – among them Robert the Bruce, Edward I and Charles I. Fyvie Castle lies off the A947, 8 miles SE of Turriff in Aberdeenshire.
… A Castle fit for a Queen – By the time Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage visited Glamis in 1562, the East Wing was dominated by the main Tower, which had been added in about 1435. The Castle was enclosed within a fortified court. After more changes in the centuries to come the 13th Earl laid out the Dutch Garden in front of the Castle in 1893. This return to a formal style was continued with the creation by The Queen Mother’s parents of the Italian Garden in 1910. This was the last major alteration and completes the modern day appearance of the Castle. Official website…
… the ancient seat of the Gordons, is a noble ruin in a beautiful setting. It is remarkable for the splendor of its architecture and for its stirring history. It gave shelter to Robert the Bruce during the struggle with England. It witnessed the struggle between Stewart king, James II and the powerful Black Douglas family.
… located in the regions “capital” of Inverness, this Victorian building of red sandstone dominates the city skyline. Of little importance in its heyday, it now serves as a sheriff’s courthouse and principal tourist attraction.
… home of the Duke of Argyll. The senior branch of the Campbell clan moved from Loch Awe to Inveraray in the first half of the 15th century. The present building, in the style of a Castle, was built between 1745-85. On display are the famous Armoury Collection, French tapestries and fine Scottish furniture. Official website…
… Kilchurn has a four-storey tower built in the mid 15th century by Sir Colin Campbell, 1st of Glenorchy. Much enlarged in 1693, it incorporates the first purpose-built barracks in Scotland. The substantial ruins are some of the most picturesque in the country with spectacular views down Loch Awe. Access is not easy but there is a wee car park at the head of the loch just outside Dalmally and a track under the rail bridge.
… The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are set in a park beside a loch. Most of the Stewart kings lived at the Palace. Numerous renovations to the palace’s grand facades and chambers were carried out as each sought to create the ideal modern palace. Linlithgow Palace can be found west of Edinburgh close to the M9 motorway.
Castle Mey and Gardens
… Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother first saw what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952, located in Thurso, the far north of Scotland. Falling for its isolated charm and hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to save it. The Queen Mother renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens you see today. For almost half a century she spent many happy summers here and shorter visits at other times of the year. Official website….
.. Once the crowning place of the Kings of Scots, Scone Palace occupies a unique position in the history of Scotland. A breathtakingly beautiful place of power and mystery and the rightful home of the celebrated Stone of Scone – also known as the Stone of Destiny. Scone Palace is regarded as a national treasure and is revered as the historic jewel in the crown of Scotland. Scone Palace can be found just oustside Perth. Official website….
… Has a 20m tower house, with walls 2.5m thick, dominates the rock craig. In its shadow lie the ruined foundations of an outer hall and kitchen block, discovered during excavations in 1979-81. A stout defensive wall, 2m thick, encloses the barmkin, or courtyard. The tower house comprised the main residential accommodation for its Pringle laird – ground-floor cellars, first-floor hall, second-floor bedchamber and additional chambers at the top. The views from the battlements are stunning, and on a good day you can see mighty Bamburgh Castle, 53km away in Northumberland.
… Castle Stalker is located 25 miles north of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. The astle was built around 1540 by Duncan Stewart of Appin on a former fortificated site. This much-photographed castle was gifted by him to James IV for use as a hunting lodge. In fact, its Gaelic name Caisteal Stalcair translates literally as ‘Castle of the Hunter’. It sits at the mouth of Loch Laich, by Loch Linnhe, n a rocky islet known as the Rock of the Cormorants which is also the battle cry of the Stewarts of Appin.
… rising high on a rocky crag, this magnificent castle, which dominated Scottish history for centuries, now remains one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland. The present buildings date from the 15th centuries and was last defended against the Jcobites in 1746. It was a military depot until 1964. Official website…
… is Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited house. It has deep roots in Scottish religious and political history stretching back over 900 years. It was a stronghold of the Catholic Stuarts. Mary, Queen of Scots, among the many monarchs, stayed here. Among the relics housed here are Jacobite artifacts. Official website…
… A formidable stronghold set atop cliffs on the Firth of Forth, Tantallon Castle was the seat of the Douglas Earls of Angus, one of the most powerful baronial families in Scotland. Tantallon served as a noble fortification for more than three centuries and endured three sieges. The views from the castle towards Bass Rock are wonderful.
… is situated on a rocky promontory that juts into Loch Assynt. The three-storey tower was built by the MacLeods of Assynt in two phases around 1500 and 1590. In 1650, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose was imprisoned in the castle after his defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale. He was handed over to the Covenanters who took him to Edinburgh where he was hanged.
… Built in the 15th century by the Chrichton family on the Firth of Forth near Blackness village, about 4 miles from Linlithgow – follow the A803 then B903. Blackness village served the royal burgh as a sea port from as early as 1200. The castle is surrounded on three sides by water and has the appearance of a boat. It has been referred to as “the ship that never sailed”.
… The Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh was created from the original royal residence, which was a wing in the monastic guesthouse of the existing Holyrood Abbey. Holyrood House is now the official residence in Scotland of the reigning monarch.
… situated on the shore of Loch Ness, this remarkable castle dominated the water trade on the loch and the Great Glen. Urquhart Castle was built in the 1230s, seized by the English in 1296, sacked by the MacDonald Lord of the Isles in 1545 and left to fall into decay after 1689. Most of the existing buildings date from the 14th century and include the Grant Tower (16th century) the best-preserved part of the complex.
… one of the “Four Border Abbeys”, Kelso was founded in the 12th century by David I and was the oldest and the wetitlehiest. It suffered from wars with England and was severely damaged in 1545. Situated in the middle of Kelso Town, it is the focus and main attraction of the region and its ruins are well preserved.
… is one of the great quartet of 12th-century Border Abbeys, along with Kelso, Dryburgh and Melrose. This Abbey church has many interesting architectural features including a rose window. Situated on a prominent rise in the town of Jedburgh it is another remarkable ruin worth visiting.
… also set on the bend of the River Tweed, Dryburgh is considered the most evocative monastic ruin in Scotland. Sir Wtitleer Scott is buried here in the North Transcept of the Church. The Cloister and Chapter House are extremely well preserved. A spiral staircase leads to the top for a dramatic view of the Sacristy.
… the rose-pink ruins of Melrose Abbey, one of the most beautiful of the Border Abbeys, bear testimony to the devastation of successive English invasions. Built in 1136 for Cisterian monks it was detitle a swift death in 1545 by Henry VIII. The remains are rich in decorations including a pig playing the pipes. Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried here.
The National Trust and Historic Scotland
… the majority of the castles and other historic buildings such as abbeys in Scotland are connected with or owned by one of these organizations, The National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.
Both the organizations have a lot to offer especially when visiting more than one of their attractions. The National Trust offers a discovery ticket that is valid for a number of days varying from 3 to 14 days. Historic Scotland offers a explorer ticket with almost the same options. Buying such a ticket means that you can save a lot of money and enjoy even more the beauty of the Scottish Heritage.