Out of all the places I have been, Scotland remains high on the list. Green everywhere, endlesses lochs, and historic and downright amazing castles. If you can stand the cold weather, the sheep, and the narrow roads, then Scotland and her mighty castles are perfect for you. Here is a list of just a few of the most amazing castles in Scotland.
Dominating the skyline of the capital city of Edinburgh is Edinburgh Castle.
A royal castle has existed at this location on Castle Rock since the 12th century during the reign of David I. The castle was used as a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns on March 25th 1603. From this point on, the castle was used primarily as a military barrack.
Over the past 150 years, many structures on the castle grounds have been restored.
Today, over one million people visit the castle every year, making it the most visited paid attraction in the country. If you are only in Scotland for a limited amount of time or you will only be in Edinburgh, then don’t miss the castle.
Be sure to also catch the One O’Clock Gun, a shot fired from Mill’s Mount Battery, on the north side of the castle. The shot is fired every day but Sunday, Good Friday, and Christmas at 1:00PM (13:00). The time signal was established in 1861 for ships in the nearby Leith harbor and the Firth of Forth.
Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. It is also one of the most impressive.
Impressive is the location of the castle on a rocky crag (hill) known as Castle Hill. The castle is surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. Up until the 1890s, Stirling Castle was used to guard a downstream crossing of the River Forth.
The first records of Stirling Castle are from 1110, when a chapel was dedicated at this location by King Alexander I.
Most of the buildings seen today date back to the 15th and 16th centuries between 1490 and 1600. A few structures date back to the 14th century.
If you made the journey here, you might even feel like royalty knowing that many Scottish kings and queens were crowned here including Mary, Queen of Scots.
Today, many buildings have been restored to their original glory. The work continues on.
Eilean Donan Castle
Located on a small island where three lochs meet and connected to the mainland with an early 20th century stone footbridge is Eilean Donan Castle. Surrounded by bright green land, blue lochs, and mountains, it’s easy to see why the castle may be one of the most picturesque castles in the world.
Eilean Donan, meaning “island of Donnán”, is named after the martyred Celtic saint, Donnán of Eigg.
The original castle was built here around the reign of Alexander II (1214–1249). It was strategically built here for the purpose of being a stronghold for the Clan Mackenzie and Clan Macrae against Norse expeditions.
Like other castles in Europe, Eilean Donan was destroyed in 1719. Almost 200 years passed before it was finally, and thankfully, reconstructed.
Today, the castle is often featured in movies and television shows thanks to its fairy tale like setting.
Urquhart Castle is mostly just a bunch of ruins over a large area and by itself may not be the most picturesque castle.
So why visit? Easy answer, just look at that view. The backdrop of the ruins on Loch Ness and her blue waters are simply stunning. So stunning that the ruins are some of the most visited in the country.
Before the 13th century, a medieval fortification was located here. The ruins seen today date all the way back to the 13th century when the castle was first founded. One of the first records of the castle was in 1296 when Edward I of England captured the castle. This marked the start of the Wars of Scottish Independence.
By 1509, the castle was fought over and raided by multiple clans including Clan Grant and Clan MacDonalds. The castle was built larger and strengthened up until the 17th century when it was destroyed, abandoned, and left to decay.
Luckily today, the raids and battles have ended and the castle is now cared for by the government.
Urquhart Castle is located on the western shore of Loch Ness about 25 minutes south of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
Located on the western side of the beautiful and majestic Isle of Skye is Dunvegan Castle. The castle is located on a picturesque rocky promontory on the calm Loch Dunvegan, a sea loch.
The chiefs of Clan MacLeod have lived at this location for some 800 years, making it one of Britain’s longest and oldest inhabited castles. The present castle dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
At a time, the bridge was only accessible by boat but luckily today if you visit, you can walk across the moat by bridge.
The best experience of visiting the castle is by viewing its mighty exterior, but those who are interested in Scottish history can take a tour of the inside of the castle. One interesting artifact inside is the “Fairy flag” which was believed to be given to the MacLeod’s for the purpose of good luck during battle. During the second world war, MacLeod airmen wore replicas of the fairy flag under their uniforms as they battled the Germans.
I love castles. I love Scotland. If you ever make it to this green and misty country, then be sure to check out some of these castles listed above. Also remember that Scotland is littered with castles at every corner so if you have a rental car, you will run into castle after castle while driving through this awesome country. When you see something that looks interesting, just stop and explore.