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Scotland is well-known for its castles and you’d be hard pressed to find more castles anywhere else in the world. There are believed to be roughly 2000 - 3000 Medieval castles in Scotland in the 900 years of castle building. Some are so obscure that they are only footnotes in history. Like many households, here at Dream Travel Today we’ve been obsessed by castles since we have had and still have more than a few prince and princesses who dream of castles. Including castles as a focus in family travel has proven to be interesting to all generations, which was quite a surprise to some of our kings who declared they “like going to real castles.”
From the oldest castles in Scotland, (Aberdour Castle and Castle Sween) to the largest and more famous castles of Scotland (Edinburg Castle, Braermar Castle, Balmoral Castle, Blair Castle, Inveraray Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Dunnottar Castle, Clamis Castle, and Stirling Castle) -- there’s just something awe inspiring about them, whether restored or in complete ruins -- you can hardly go anywhere in Scotland without a castle (or several) being close by. Let's start exploring some of them:
Castles aren't just found in a few European countries from and weren't only built in Medieval days.
Castles can be found in: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, United States, and Wales.
Built by the Clan MacLeod the remains of this 16th century castle (but thought to originate as early as 1490), what remains is a ruin set high in the mountains with indescribably beautiful views as you trek up towards the stone tower house. If you are an Outlander series fan (and we all are), it’s the place where the Mackenzies attacked and captured, and in doing so used sone from Ardvreck Castle to help build Calda house. Recycling 1726 style, but fraught with it’s own problems, because it burned down within a decade and was later seized by the Crown for being on the wrong side of history where it has remained a ruin ever since.
Bothwell Castle is a Medieval Castle built on a large-scale, it’s one of Scotland’s largest castles still remaining from the 13th century. It sits high above the River Clyde on a steep bank, with the story of its role in the Wars of Independence and the many sieges it endured. The aristocratic Moray family who built Bothwell Castle had the foresight to build a stone dojon, who in itself is a testament to survival of the fittest - weather, time, sieges, and partial dismantling. It was actually never really fully built to the original architectural design, but that’s often the way with castles who are often built over centuries, not within the lifespan of the original builder. The history this one dojon must have witnessed. In its later days as an inhabited castle it was the home of the Earl of Douglas
Castles and fairies go hand-in hand in the world of make believe and fairy tales and Fairy Glen Castle on the Isle of Skye certainly has earned its place in an ancient world of faerie lore. As myth has it, Fairy Glen Castle faeries created the place and still dwell within its many steep and interesting crevices and all that greenery during the spring within those geological formations. You’ll marvel at the natural rock formations that look like an ancient ruin all by themselves.
This Clan Munro castle is the ultimate in reimagined castles in Scotland as in the lifespan of its longevity, it often had to rebuild from the ashes of fires to the present day residence it is today. It now stands in Georgian grandeur but you can still see its Tower of Foulis that was originally build in 1154 being restored several times over the centuries. The original gun loops are still in that tower as well as an 11th century motte that was the foundation of fortification efforts at Foulis castle. There are no existing original peeks into how this castle once looked before 1746 but they do believe that it was a whole place where the entire surrounding community could escape to during a siege. The tower itself is almost 6 feet thick with its four cannon loops being hidden until 1985.
The ruins of Kilchurn Castle from the 15th century, were once home base for the Campbells of Glenorchy and was in use until 1770. It’s sitting on top a small island and most famously connected to Sir Duncan Campbell who built the dining hall and subsequent other Campbells continued over the years to add to its former grandeur. A violet storm and lightning caused final abandonment with the complete loss of its roof. Now on a long peninsula that can at times become a temporary island only accessible by boat and foot.
If you are a fan of trending Vampire romance novels, surely you’ll want to visit Slain’s Castle since it is the virtual birthplace of Bram Storker’s Dracula after he once stayed there. Perched on the edge of a cliff, takes your mind to all sorts of romantic and somewhat forbidden glimpses into the imagination what remains of the remains hold. While it’s not the prettiest of Scotland’s castles it’s definitely one of the most interesting, perhaps because the ruins tells what only abandoned ruin can tell, that and the sounds of waves crashing below on rocks and the haunting calls of seagulls.
Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Highlands, Scotland - Scotland’s most northern castle, one that has continuously been lived in since the early 1300s (including today), has seen a whole lot of moments in history. What we love about it is the unique link to the golden eagle in its architecture and that the ancient art of falconry continues today to the delight of its many visitors.
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Caithness, Scotland - aka The Green Lady of Crathes Castle -- there are castles and then there are castle ruins, both have deep stories to tell and that’s certainly true of This castle. When you think about the name “Castle Sinclair Girnigoe” the very name speaks to the fact that the castle is two medieval castle ruins - one from the 15th century and a later one from the 17th century. The ruins have a fascinating history that would make any Scottish castle lover fall in love with the sitG
Castle of Old Wick, Wick, Scotland — this ancient castle ruin dates back to at least the 1100s, and one can only imagine what moments in history the four story tower saw. Long ago parts of this castle precariously perched on a rocky seaside headland cliff have collapsed but the Old Man of Wick still stands defiant in the test of time.
Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey, Highland, Scotland - aka Barrogill Castle, in the 1950s was in sad condition when Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) then the widow of King George VI and restored it as her holiday home for the next forty-six years. Today, it’s a wonderful castle to visit from May to October, especially to see its 2 acre garden.
Glamis Castle, Glamis, Angus, Scotland— a castle where whispers of ghosts, vampires, and monsters, commingle with Shakespeare’s play “MacBeth” as a background setting for King MacBeth’s abode. Today, it’s the glamorous home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne but also open to the public.
Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle Of Lochalsh, Scotland -- the current restores 4th version of the castle on the island is treasured and revered and its a gift to generations today to be able to see inside all the history, artifacts, weapons and art. This castle is family friendly and is geared towards ancient battles and history. It is also paradise for spotting porpoise, dolphins, otters and bird life.
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