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Perth & Kinross Highland Perthshire
Lochleven Castle, Perthshire
Location: KY13 8UF (map and directions)
Set on Castle Island in Perthshire’s Loch Leven, the castle known as Lochleven is a late 14th
century four-storey tower house accessible only by boat. Interestingly, the castle is accessed at the
second floor level, perhaps a building decision made by architects who were wary of flooding.
Lochleven Castle © Otter
History of Lochleven Castle
Lochleven’s defensive wall may have been built as early as 1300 during the Wars of Independence
with England, and may have even been built by the English themselves. Sir William Wallace
then captured and killed all 30 English on the property and the Scots retook the island. In 1333,
Lochleven was one of only five castles holding out against the English.
In 1390, King Robert II granted the property to William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, and the castle
remained in the hands of Clan Douglas for the next 300 years. In the 14th century, Loch Leven
Castle was strengthened by an addition of a five-storey tower house. This tower house remains
through to today, which, according to Historic Scotland, makes it one of the oldest surviving tower
Lochleven played a significant role in the most traumatic year in the life of Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary first visited the castle in 1561 as a guest to Sir William Douglas, but her second visit in 1567
saw Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned at Lochleven until her dramatic escape one year later. She
spent most of her time in captivity in the Glassin Tower.
Mary was not the only royal to be imprisoned at Lochleven. Robert, the High Stewart, was also
held here in 1369, just two years before his coronation as Robert II. Also held prisoner here was
the English Earl of Northumberland, who fled to Scotland following the Catholic Rising of the North
in England in 1570. He was captured by the Earl of Morton and imprisoned at Lochleven until being
sent back to England for his execution.
The island itself is today four times the size it was when Mary Queen of Scots would have been
imprisoned there. This is as a result of the water level of the loch being purposefully lowered by
one metre in 1830 which saw the grounds around the castle literally quadruple in size.
Lochleven Castle © Otter
Lochleven became less frequently used in the late 16th century when Sir William Douglas succeed
to the earldom of Morton and inherited several other properties, including Aberdour Castle in
Fife. The castle then fell into ruins in the 18th century, and the estate passed from the Bruces to
Grahams and then again to the Montgomerys in the 19th century.Accessible by 12-person ferry, the castle is open daily from 9:30-5:30 from 1 April - 30 September, and shortened hours in October.
The castle was purchased in 1675 by Sir William Bruce, a royal architect in Scotland, who focused
all attention on his garden, leaving Lochleven to never again be used as a residence. Bruce built
Kinross House on the shore in 1686, aligning the house on the shore to the castle garden on the
The Category A-listed building has been in state care since 1939 and is managed by Historic
View Lochleven Castle in a larger map
Other castles in Perthshire