Today on the Sykes blog, we’re going to be taking a trip north of the border in order to investigate some of the biggest and best castles on offer. With its turbulent and colourful history, Scotland has been a breeding ground for countless examples of castles, from the medieval peel towers in the Borders, right the way through to the stunning feats of architecture such as Edinburgh and Balmoral. Now as you can probably imagine, it’s been quite the task narrowing it down to just the six castles but we’ve done our best, so take a look and see which one would get your vote.
Where else could we have started this list but with the world famous Edinburgh Castle? The centrepiece of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline up above the city and is one of Scotland’s most visited tourist attractions with people flocking there in their droves. With the celebrated 1 o’clock gun and events such as the annual Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle is definitely worth paying a visit to.
With at least eight sieges, a few ghosts and a couple of famous murders, I think it’s safe enough to say that Stirling Castle has had a pretty eventful history. Most of the buildings on show these days date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, although a few earlier examples still remain. Not only is it a Scheduled Ancient Monument but Stirling Castle has played a major role in Scottish history with many of the most prominent figures being strongly linked to it, from Robert the Bruce through to King James I, the first ruler of both England and Scotland.
With stunning views out over the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan is found right at the juncture of three of the Highland lochs. It’s easily one of the most recognisable points, not just in the Highlands but in Scotland! Over the centuries, Eilean Donan has had a somewhat colourful past, whether it’s clan uprisings, the War of Independence or being partially destroyed during the Jacobite Uprising of the 18th Century. Happily though, the castle was rebuilt in the early 1900’s and under the guidance of the Conchra Charitable Trust remains one of the Highlands’ gems.
Next up, we’re heading to Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfries. Sitting just the other side of the Solway Firth from England, Caerlaverock has watched over the Borders for centuries and played a key role in Scottish history. Over the years, Caerlaverock was attacked countless times, including when Edward I of England besieged it with the entire English Army in 1300. Although one of its walls may have been destroyed following it’s capture in 1640, the castle remains one of the finest on offer and its unique triangular design still pulls in visitors right to this day.
Then we’re going to head up north to the Ayrshire Coast where you’ll be able to find Culzean Castle. Some version of the castle may have standing since the 1300’s but it wasn’t until Sir Thomas Kennedy inherited the building in the mid-18th century that it started to take the form that we see today. With stunning gardens and extravagant interiors, including a famous oval staircase, Culzean really is one of the gems of the north of Scotland, so much so that since 1987 it has featured on the back of the Scottish £5 notes.
Apparently the oldest continually inhabited castle in the whole of Scotland, Dunvegan has been the seat of the chiefs of Clan Macleod for over 800 years. Throughout the many generations that have called it home, the Macleods have managed to amass a veritable treasure trove of Scottish artefacts, from a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hair through to the famous fairy flag, which according to legend brings victory to the Macleods whenever it is unfurled.
We’re going to finish with another of the most famous castles in Scotland – Balmoral. Well known for being one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favoured retreats, Balmoral has been in the possession of the Royal family since 1852 when it was purchased by Prince Albert. Over the years, the estate has steadily expanded and these days covers and area of around 50,000 acres with woodlands, Munros and of course the stunning gardens that were opened to public access back in 1931.
Well there you have it. Hopefully you’ll agree with our choices. There are so many more that we just couldn’t fit into our list but let us know if you have any favourites that you think should have been included! If you fancy paying one of them a visit, make sure you take a look at this page where you’ll find our full range of Scottish properties perfect for putting your feet up in after a long day out and about.