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Top 5 Castles to visit in Scotland

With over 1,500 castles in Scotland, it was very hard to narrow it down but we’ve done it!

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Dubbed as one of the most attacked castles in the world. Edinburgh Castle’s history although an ancient one going back over 1,000 years is also a bloody one, research shows that over its history the castle has been victim to 26 sieges. The effect of these sieges can be seen today or perhaps not seen as a large amount of the castle is no longer standing. The most notable siege responsible for the damage to the castle was the Lang Siege of the 16th century where artillery bombarded the castle causing damages you can’t see today.

However, regardless of continuous bombardment from enemy forces, some aspects of the castle remain untouched, the most notable of these structures being St Margarets Chapel. Constructed in the 12th century it is regarded by many as the oldest building in Edinburgh. As you can now tell, the castle has changed a lot over the years but all of this change isn’t due to military attacks. Over recent years the castle has very much turned into a tourist hot spot. The castle is now home to multiple museums encouraging tourist visitation, the castle is the most popular paid tourist attraction in all of Scotland for this very reason.

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

Whilst the initial construction date is not clear to historians the earliest written record of fortification at the site of Dunnottar is from 681. Located on the Northeastern coast of Scotland most of the castle is in ruins but some areas of the site have survived, these surviving buildings are mainly from the 15th and 16th Centuries. The castle was the residence of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland, but now photographers and budding historians call the ruins home as well as tourists who come far afield to visit the ruins.

The castle is held close to the hearts of Scottish folk being one of the country’s national treasures.

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

We’re sure you’ve heard of Balmoral Castle before as it is centre stage in the popular Netflix TV Show ‘The Crown’ (2016). Although popularity increased due to the hit show, Balmoral’s fame comes from being the Scottish holiday home for the Royal Family, however, don’t fret, the castle’s grounds and gardens are accessible to the public during certain times of the year, however, the castle interior is out of bounds to the public as they are Her Majesty’s Royal Residence. Although, on certain days the public is permitted inside the ballroom other than that you won’t be able to step inside and explore, sad we know, there is still much to explore outside the castle walls. The castle hasn’t always been in possession of the royal family however, it came into their possession in 1852 when Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband purchased the original castle from the Farquharson family. Later it was discovered that the house was too small and the current castle you see today was commissioned.

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle opened in 1372, however, the castle was rebuilt in the 15th century. Today however most of the castle constructed in the 15th century is still standing and is open to the public periodically throughout the year. (In 2022 the castle is open until the 31st of October). Glamis Castle although not as popular as other castles have been home to events of massive historical importance throughout its lifetime. Serving as inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the birthplace of HRH Princess Margaret. Upon your visit to the castle the expert guides will help you follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots, James V, Bonnie Dundee, the Old Jacobite Pretender to the throne James VIII, the ill-fated Janet Douglas and of course tell the story of the bitter-sweet life of Mary Eleanor Bowes.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

One of the most important castles in Scotland, historically and architecturally. Until the late 1890s, the castle was situated at the site of the last crossing over the River Forth hence its value as a strategic fortification. The earliest residents at the site of Stirling Castle, known as Castle Hill, are thought to have been The Maeatae. A confederation of tribes who lived beyond the Antonine Wall (a wall constructed by the Romans across what is now the central belt of Scotland). However, what you can now see of the castle was constructed centuries later, the buildings inside the castle walls date back to the 15th and 16th Centuries whilst the date of the outer defence is to the early 18th Century. The castle is open to the public all year round so you can visit anytime. So why not pay the castle a visit and enter the world of Scotland’s Renaissance kings and queens and discover a world of colour, splendour and glorious craftsmanship?

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