Must See Castles of Scotland

October 16, 2019

Scotland is worldwide famous for its castles. 

Each one telling a different story of times gone by, from dominating city landmarks to mysterious romantic ruins. 

I have created my list of castles you just have to visit, each one unique with some being very recognisable to some less discovered...

 

Dunnottar Castle 

 

Set on top of a cliff overlooking the mighty North Sea, Dunnottar castle is an unforgettable sight. 

This medieval fortress still has ruins dating back to the 15th century and today the keep, barracks, kitchen and dungeon can be seen.

Looking down from the cliff you will see beaches either side of the castle and you can just imagine the times of pirates and Viking invasions of the 9th century. During the Viking invasions parts of the castle were destroyed, however over the years the castle has had some very famous visitors including Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace. 

In my eyes the castle has similarities to something you would see in Disney's "Brave", if you check one castle north of Edinburgh - make it this one. 

 

        Photo credit: Daily Express

 

Urquhart Castle 

 

Situated on the banks of Loch Ness (can it get more Scottish?), the impressive Urquhart Castle stands.

In 1306, the Castle came under the control of Robert The Bruce during the Scot’s struggle for independence. The castle rulers have changed many times between The Crown and the ruling Lords of the Isles. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 during the Jacobite uprising and this castle has witnessed some bloody history.

 

Since then the castle has fallen into decay and in 1913 it was passed into state care. Nowadays, the castle’s history can be told in the audio visual exhibition and there are many artefacts of interest to view inside the museum.

Three noble families who held the castle were the MacDonald’s, Grants and Duwards. Their family history can be heard in the visitor centre. During dusk, the castle is floodlit and budding photographers are welcome to take candid night time shots.

Due to the location of the Castle, the views across Loch Ness and the Great Glen are outstanding.

The loch waters are usually calm, unless a mysterious Loch Ness Monster chooses to appear... 

 Photo credit: Visit Scotland

 

Craigievar Castle 

 

This is the quintessential Scottish fairy-tale Castle.

Set in the middle of rural Aberdeenshire this baronial Castle holds Jacobean wood works and furniture, and it remains perfectly preserved as when it was lived in by the Forbes-Sempill Family for 350 years.  

From the outside you can see the rose coloured stone work and it is reputed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Castle Logo. The surroundings include a Victorian style garden and a typical Scottish Glen garden. During the spring time, the property is home to a lovingly cared for arboretum in the garden. Craigievar’s iconic tower house has been standing since 1626 and can be seen from afar. The castle has extensive park lands and if weather permits Craigievar is perfect for a picnic stop whilst on your visit.

 

 

 

Dunrobin Castle 

 

One of the most Northerly Castles in Scotland dating back to the 1300’s. This castle has a resemblance of a classic French Chateau.

The Castle is perched on a high terrace overlooking walled gardens and the entrance to the inside of the castle is impressive.

The grand staircase boasts a collection of hunting trophies as Dunrobin claimed to be the one of the largest hunting lodges in Scotland. Visitors can see where the Duke of Sunderland sat down for dinner in the dining room as it was in 1850.

The library room is also noteworthy, with a collection of over 10,000 books. Once you have explored the inside, the gardens are extensive and beautifully cared for.

There is also a Museum in the castle grounds which provides visitors with the chance to view notable Pictish stones, taxidermy, and a collection of geological relics.

 

 

 Photo credit: Visit Scotland

 

Edinburgh Castle 

 

Edinburgh Castle is undoubtedly the most famous Scottish castle of them all. 

Recently, the castle has been voted the top tourist attraction outside of London, and over 2 million people visit annually. 

The historic fortress stands upon an extinct volcano and dominates the city of Edinburgh (a great viewpoint is Castle Street in the New Town area).

The site has been occupied since the late Bronze Age and many restoration programmes have been carried out. This Scottish Castle hosts the Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny which was returned to Scotland in 1996 from Westminster. The castle has been a military base since the 1600’s and many Kings and Queens of Scotland have resided here.

Make sure to plan your visit around 1 o clock - everyday at exactly 1 o clock a gun fire is shot from a World War two cannon (this is located on the mount battery).

Another remarkable feature of the castle is The Vaults where they have been renovated to look like early 19th Century prisons. 

 

 

 

Doune Castle

 

For Outlander fans, Doune Castle is the home of the fictional “Castle Leoch” and has been used for filming some parts of Game of Thrones too.

The castle dates back to the 1260’s and was the seat of Robert Stewart who was the younger brother of King Robert III. The grandest room in the castle is the Great Hall, which is reached by a stone staircase. The interconnecting rooms are positioned in a way which will inspire the visitor’s imagination. On the top of the castle there is a rooftop walkway which provides good views of the river Teith.

Since the filming of Outlander the relatively undiscovered castle has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers and speciality tours can be arranged for visits to the castle. 

 

 Photo credit: Viator

 

 

Slains Castle 

 

Situated on the rocky Aberdeenshire coast near the town of Cruden Bay in the north east of Scotland. 

It is often said that Slains castle gave Bram Stoker the inspiration for Count Dracula’s castle. He stayed near the castle in 1895. Slains was originally built to replace “Old Slains Castle” after it was destroyed in 1594.

The castle lies along the cliff edge and is slightly different from other Scottish castles. Slains has been left neglected to nature and unlike other castles it is not placed into a trust.  This makes it a unique, eerie experience for visitors. Interestingly, two Soldier Ghosts have been rumoured and witnessed within the storage rooms. It is free to enter the ruin and you can walk around each room, where you can view the old kitchens, library and great hall.

There are breath-taking views from the cliff drops and remembering a pair of binoculars would be an advantage. Entrance to the Castle is free and there are no available guided tours. The Castle is open all year round, but be carefully during high winds. 

 


 

Brodie Castle 

 

 

Brodie is a 16th Century castle located in Morayshire, North East Scotland near Inverness.

Filled with antique furniture, paintings and the lasting legacy of Clan Brodie this castle is not to be missed. 

The turrets, passageways and rooms show what everyday life was like during the Baronial times. The Castle is very well preserved despite the fire of 1645.

Outside there are 71 hectares of estate to explore, including landscaped gardens, observation hides and woodland walks. 

 

What makes Brodie unique is the paranormal activity reported there. Reportedly in 1889, the then Earl of Brodie was abroad in Switzerland, with the servants remaining in the castle. During the night the butler heard strange noises coming from the Earl’s study room. He heard papers rustling and groaning. Once the servants located the key to unlock the study, thinking there might be an intruder they could not find anyone or anything. However, news that the Earl had passed away the previous night had reached the castle. The assumption is that the Earl returned to the Castle to deal with outstanding business…

 Photo credit: National Trust

 

 

Tantallon Castle 

 

 

Tantallon stands proud overlooking the Firth of Forth and the seaside town of North Berwick is nearby.

The mighty castle was built in the mid 1300’s and has been the seat of the Earls of Angus. However, Tantallon was besieged by both James V and James IV and was ultimately destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1651. 
Visitors can enjoy the rugged coastline from the high battlements and you can clearly the see the famous Bass Rock where you can see over 150,000 gannets who reside on the rock. If you venture down to the cliff edge there are telescopes available to enhance your view. The castle is home to a replica gun which was used to fight against the crown in 1528. 
In 2009, the presence of a Ghostly figure appearing behind railings in a wall opening was reported, the “courtly figure” had been seen 30 years previously. Tantallon have confirmed that there had been no costumed guides present at the time.

 

 

 

 

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