1) Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire
Crathes is a 16th-century castle located close to Banchory in Aberdeenshire.The castle is the historic seat of the Burnett of Leys family who called it home for nearly 400 years. The castle and gardens are currently cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, and are open to the public.
2) Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire
Craigievar Castle located near Alford in Aberdeenshire has an almost fairytale like appearance, and was the Seat of Clan Semple. Member of the Clan Forbes (related to the Semples) occupied the castle for nearly 350 year until 1963, when it was passed into the care of the National Trust for Scotland. The castle is open to the public for guided tours.
3) Aldourie Castle, Highlands
Aldourie is a lesser known castle located close to the banks of Loch Ness. A mansion house has been situated on the site of Aldourie since 1626, though most of present day building dates from the 1800’s and is built in the Scottish Baronial style. A 17th Century stone panel carved into the north wall indicates that the building was once occupied by the Macintoshes of Kyllachy. The castle has recently undergone an extensive £10 million pound renovation, and is now used as to hold events such as weddings, and corporate meetings.
4) Blair Castle, Perthshire
Blair Castle situated near Blair Atholl in Perthshire is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray. Although some parts of the castle date as far back as the 13th Century, the castle was extensively re-modelled in the 1800’s in the Scottish Baronial style by famous architect of the time, David Bryce. The castle has been open to the public since 1936, and offers the visitor fascinating displays of antique weapons, paintings, hunting trophies, and other treasures collected by the Clan Murray.
5) Bothwell Castle, South Lanarkshire
Located 10 miles from Glasgow, perched above the River Clyde, Bothwell Castle is considered one of Scotland’s outstanding medieval monuments. The construction of the castle was originally started in the 13th Century by Walter of Moray, however his plans were never finalised due to the constant warring and invasions of the time. Most of the present day castle dates from the 15th Century and was the work of the ‘Black Douglases’, a powerful noble family. Today, the castle is open to the public.
6) Hermitage Castle, Roxburghshire
The semi ruinous Hermitage Castle located in the Scottish Borders could win a prize as ‘one of the most sinister looking castles in Scotland.’ Hermitage’s sinister appearance is backed up by an equally sinister history, and it was once known as the ‘guardhouse to the bloodiest valley in Britain.’ The area around Hermitage was excessively violent in past centuries due to its close proximity to the English border. Today in more peaceful times, the castle is a popular visitor attraction.
7) Balvenie Castle, Aberdeenshire
Balvenie situated on the North East coast was originally built by a powerful family known as the ‘Black Comyns’, and is a rare example of 13th Century Scottish military architecture. The Comyns were overthrown during the Wars of Independence, and the castle came into the possession of another powerful family, the ‘Black Douglases.’ Like the previous occupants, the Douglases were eventually kicked out of Balvenie by another historic Scottish family, the Stewarts, who made the castle home for almost 3 centuries. Today Balvenie is open to the public.
8) Doune Castle, Perthshire
Castle Doune is a well preserved medieval castle built in the 13th Century, and was once home to Robert Stewart who was once ruler of Scotland from 1388 to 1420. These days the castle is not only popular with visitors, but also with film makers; Doune has featured in Outlander, Game of Thrones, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
9) Urquhart Castle, Highlands
The medieval Urquhart Castle sitting perched on the shores of Loch Ness, is an iconic sight seen by visitors to one of Scotland’s most famous lochs. The present castle was built in the 13th Century, and it saw many centuries of bloodshed, featuring prominently in Scotland’s military conflicts with England. Thankfully the years of bloodshed have passed, and the castle is now a popular attraction, featuring a visitor centre, cafe, and audio-visual presentation.
10) Brodie Castle, Morayshire
Brodie Castle was built by the Clan Brodie in 1567, and remained their ancestral seat right up until 1980 when it was passed into the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Whilst originally built in the design of a 16th Century tower house, the castle like many others, went through extensive renovation in the 1800’s and was remodelled in the Scots Baronial style. Today, Brodie Castle is open to the public, and visitors are met with a stunning building crammed with priceless antiques collected over centuries.