10 Must Visit Scottish Castles

1) Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfriesshire
Caerlaveorck Castle located in Dumfriesshire, is regarded by many as one of Scotland’s ‘Great Medieval Castles.’  It was built in the 13th Century, and was once a stronghold of the mighty Maxwell family, whose influence spread well beyond their Dumfriesshire homeland. Today the castle is protected by Historic Scotland, and is a popular tourist attraction.

carlaverock castle dumfriesshire

Caerlaverock Castle, One of Scotland’s Great Medieval Castles.

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2) Castle Stalker, Argyllshire
Castle Stalker located approximately 12 miles north of the town of Oban, is not only an iconic Scottish castle, but also featured in the memorable comedy ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ Situated on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, the castle only be reached with care during low tide. It is regarded as one of the best preserved medieval tower houses on the west coast.

castle stalker port appin

Castle Stalker, Featured in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’

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3) Glamis Castle, Angus
Glamis Castle is a very fine building, and currently home to the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. The Queen Mother once called this castle home, with the building being in her family’s posession since the 14th Century.

Despite still being occupied and used as a home, the castle is open to the public, and not surprisingly a very popular visitor attraction.

glamis castle angus

Glamis Castle. Home to the Bowes Lyon Family for 700 Years.

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4) Dunnotar Castle, Aberdeenshire
Dunnotar Castle built and owned by Clan Keith, played an important role in Scottish history. The Scottish crown jewels were once hidden here, to protect them from marauding English invaders led by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th Century. The castle today lies in ruins, but nonetheless is well worth a visit, due to it’s dramatic location perched on 160 foot cliffs.

dunnotar castle aberdeenshire

Dunnotar Castle, Once Home to Clan Keith.

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5) Cawdor Castle, Nairn
Cawdor Castle was built built by the Clan Calder in the 15th Century, but then passed in to the hands of the Clan Campbell; it still remains in their possession to this very day. The castle is famed for it’s connection to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, however the links where purely fictional. The castle is still inhabited, and is home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl of Cawdor. The castle and it’s impressive gardens are now a popular visitor attraction.

cawdor castle nairn

Cawdor Castle, Owned by the Clan Campbell Since the 16th Century.

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6) Stirling Castle, Stirlingshire
Stirling Castle, one of the largest and most strategically important castles in Scotland is dramatically perched on a a rocky crag known as ‘Castle Hill.’ During it’s time Stirling Castle, has seen several Scottish monarchs crowned within it’s walls, and has also undergone many bloody sieges inspired by internal politics and foreign foes from England. Today the castle still plays a military role as the headquarters of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, though no troops are stationed there. In more peaceful times, the castle now also acts as the town’s biggest visitor attraction.

stirling castle scotland

Stirling, One of the Largest and Most Important Castles in Scotland.

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7) Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Culzean Castle was built in the late 1700’s on the orders of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassilis. In 1945 the Kennedy family gave the building to the National Trust for Scotland in order to avoid inheritance tax. The Kennedy family stipulated that an apartment at the top of the castle be reserved for the American commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his war efforts. The American connection continues, with the castle undergoing refurbishment in 2011 thanks to a donation from a wealthy American benefactor. In 2013, the castle received over 220,000 visitors, making it one of the most popular in Scotland.

culzean castle ayrshire

Culzean Castle, Once Home to the Chief of the Clan Kennedy.

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8) Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland
The visually stunning Dunrobin Castle, isn’t really what you would expect to find in the north of Scotland, as its built in a distinctly French chateau style. The castle has been the seat of the Clan Sutherland for over 700 years, with the central tower part of the present day building dating back to the 14th Century; many modifications and additions to the building have taken place since then. Dunrobin is open each year to the public from the 1st of April to the 15th of October.

dunrobin castle golspie

Dunrobin Castle. Seat of the Clan Sutherland.

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9) Eilean Donan, Highlands
Eilean Donan is regarded as one of Scotland’s most picturesque castles, and is often seen adorning calendars, shortbread tins, and magazine front covers. Built in the 13th Century, the castle was destroyed in the 17th Century by government ships, but extensively restored in the early 20th Century. Today the castle is maintained as a major visitor attraction by the Conchra Trust.

eilean donan castle

Eilean Donan, One of Scotland’s Most Picturesque Castles.

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10) Edinburgh Castle, City of Edinburgh
Towering over the Scottish capital on a rock 430 foot above sea level, Edinburgh Castle deserves the award of ‘King of Scottish Castles.’ Reputedly humans have inhabited Castle Rock, since 900 B.C., and not surprisingly since then this strategic location has been the scene of multiple bloody battles, with Scottish and English armies vying for control. Thankfully today, Edinburgh is a more peaceful city, and the castle now welcomes huge numbers of visitors each year.

edinburgh castle

Edinburgh Castle, ‘The King of Scottish Castles.’

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