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Scottish Castles

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Famous Scottish Castles

Scotland's association with the castle dates back hundreds of years, with the first structures being built around the 11th century. With around 2000 castles constructed over 900 years, the range of styles and features offered by Scotland's castles is unsurpassed. Many have survived as part of the country's rich heritage and are now open to the public, attracting thousands of visitors each year fascinated by the extensive, and often bloodthirsty, histories offered by these amazing buildings.

If you're looking to visit the most famous castles in Scotland, this list will take you round many of the country's most well-known and impressive examples. Alternatively take a look at:

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is no doubt one of the most well-known structures in Scotland, dominating the skyline of Edinburgh atop volcanic Castle Rock. A royal castle has existed on the site since the rein of David I in the 12th century, and over the centuries Edinburgh Castle has come to be one of the most important fortresses in Scotland. It has been involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Despite its location, it has been besieged successfully.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh & The Lothians copyright Stuart Caie
Edinburgh Castle © Stuart Caie

Stirling Castle

Strategically, Stirling Castle is one of the most important fortresses in Scotland. Its long and bloody history dates back hundreds of years, with the castle playing a prominent part in the conflict between England and Scotland in the 13th and 14th centuries. Stirling Castle's most famous battle is undoubtedly the Battle of Bannockburn, on June 24th 1314. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in Stirling Castle in 1543, whilst her son James VI was christened nearby in a parish church.

Stirling Castle, Stirlingshire copyright Finlay
Stirling Castle © Finlay

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle is a stunning property built around 1854 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Although it is relatively modern, it is strongly identified with traditional Scottish structures. Today the castle stands as a private home of the Royal family who visit it each autumn for around two months, as well as less formal visits throughout the year. The fine gardens and woods of the estate are visited by thousands of people each year.

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire copyright Stuart Yeates
Balmoral Castle © Stuart Yeates


Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, and certainly one of the most beautiful. Originally built in the 13th century as a defence against Viking invaders, Eilan Donan subsequently became a stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail. It was restored in 1919-1932 and regularly features as a wedding and film location. Notable films that used Eilean Donan include Highlander, The World is Not Enough and Made of Honor.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands copyright Sonja Pieper
Eilean Donan Castle © Sonja Pieper


Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is located between Inverness and Fortwilliam, overlooking famous Loch Ness. The castle featured prominently in the Scottish battle for independence, and remained in English hands until Robert the Bruce - recently crowned King of Scotland - recaptured it in 1308. Urquhart is now a ruin, but was one of the grandest and most impressive fortresses in Scotland. Nowadays it is extremely popular with tourists hoping for a glance of the famous Loch Ness monster.

Urquhart Castle, Scottish Highlands copyright Wknight94
Urquhart Castle © Wknight94

Top 5 famous castles in Scotland

Bullet point Edinburgh Castle
Bullet point Stirling Castle
Bullet point Balmoral Castle
Bullet point Eilean Donan Castle
Bullet point Urquhart Castle


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