Great Scottish castles

Scotland's turbulent history has left a lasting mark on the landscape in shape of the many castles and fortresses that pepper the countryside. Whatever their size or condition, Scotland's castles provide a fascinating window on the past and fire the imagination, which is why they regularly top visitors' list of 'must-see' attractions. Here are a selection of classic Scottish castles to whet your appetite...

Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh Castle

Attraction

Perched high above the capital, this is Scotland's most important and famous castle. There has been a castle here since the 11th century and today’s castle is a mix of military barracks, palace, fortress and war memorial.

Stirling Castle sitting high on a ridge overlooking open countryside below

Stirling Castle

Attraction

Perched high on volcanic rock, Stirling provides spectacular views over two of Scotland's most historic battlefields - Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn. Much of today's castle dates from the 15th - 18th centuries.

Eilean Donan Castle surrounded by lochs and mountains

Eilean Donan Castle

Attraction

Eilean Donan is for many people, the archetypal Scottish castle and is certainly one of the most photographed. Ruined in the early 18th century, it was restored to all its glory some two centuries later and is now the headquarters of the Clan McRae.

The massive front portico and side walls of Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle

Attraction

Caerlaverock is one of the finest medieval structures in Scotland. Although it is quite ruined inside, some fine carved stone panels, windows and fireplaces indicate the original grandeur of this unique triangular castle.

Visitors approaching the large baronial style Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle

Attraction

Glamis is the ancient seat of the Earls of Strathmore, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the birthplace of HRH The Princess Margaret and the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The white-fronted facade of Blair Castle in rich green surroundings

Blair Castle

Attraction

Blair Castle is the ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, the last remaining private army in Europe. Many of its fascinating historical artefacts including antique furniture, art, arms and armour are on public display.

Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle

Attraction

With its fairytale appearance, Craigievar is a fine example of the Scots baronial style of architecture. Seven storeys high, its sheer walls are topped by turrets, crow-stepped gables and conical roofs which give it its distinctive character.

View of Culzean Castle on its clifftop overlooking the Firth of Clyde

Culzean Castle

Attraction

Culzean Castle is the jewel in the crown of the National Trust for Scotland. This grand cliff-top country house was remodelled in the late 18th century by the renowned architect Robert Adam in his trademark neo-classical Georgian style.

The imposing bulk of Dunvegan Castle overlooking a body of water

Dunvegan Castle

Attraction

Built on a rocky outcrop, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.

View of Fyvie Castle from the grounds outside

Fyvie Castle

Attraction

Begun as a simple castle in the 13th century, Fyvie passed through the hands of five powerful families, each of whom added significantly to it. Inside, the magnificent sweeping staircase is the most dramatic feature while many treasures are on display.

Duart Castle on a promentary overlooking a stretch of water

Duart Castle

Attraction

Duart Castle, seat of the Clan Maclean for over 700 years, stands on a rocky outcrop offering excellent natural defences as well as fantastic views. Ruined in the late 18th century, it was restored in 1911 by the then clan chief, Sir Fitzroy Maclean.

Aerial view of Inveraray Castle and its grounds

Inveraray Castle

Attraction

Inveraray Castle dates from the 18th century and is home to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, whose family have lived in Inveraray for over five centuries.

Medieval Cawdor Castle flood-lit at night

Cawdor Castle

Attraction

Cawdor Castle dates from the mid 15th century but was greatly enlarged in later centuries to give its current structure. In addition to its Shakespearean connection, Cawdor is also famed for its magnificent gardens, parts of which are over 300 years old.