Scotland was once home to over three thousand castles. Wherever you are in Scotland you are more than likely to be a stone throw away from a castle, and often when you search for ‘things to do’ in an area you are looking to go to, chances are a castle will pop in in the suggestions! From the tourist hot spot Edinburgh Castle which overlooks the capital to the peaceful ruin that is Ardvreck Castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky promontory projecting out into Loch Assynt in Sutherland. This blog post will highlight the top five castles and ruins in Scotland!
It’s no surprise that this highly historical castle is usually number one on every tourists lists of things to see. Built on top of an extinct volcano, its geographical location made it one of the best defended fortresses in Scottish history. With more than 1.5 million visitors each year, Edinburgh Castle is the most paid for attraction outside of London. A visit here can set you back by quite a pricy entrance fee but it is absolutely worth it because the history you learn from a day here is endless.
Dunrobin is the closest thing to a fairy-tale castle you can get, from the pristine white walls to the beautiful conical turrets – a day here is one worthwhile. A tour here will take you back to the time of the Earls and the Duke of Sutherland dating back to the 1300’s. The castle has 189 rooms and has acres of gardens that are looked after extremely well. The best part about Dunrobin is the falconry display. Andy Hughes, who has been the professional resident Falconer for many years demonstrates and explains the different hunting methods used by owls, hawks and falcons in a series of exciting displays. Every show creates great photo opportunities for the public and one person is luckily selected to be given the chance to catch one of the birds of prey wearing the special glove.
Ardvreck Castle is an ancient ruin placed on the east end of Loch Assynt. It’s on the route to Lochinver and is worth stopping to take a wander down to the castle and appreciate the views around it. When the tide is in, it’s not accessible. Unfortunately, due to health and safety it is not permitted to walk inside the ruin but can be viewed from the outside. Ardvreck Castle was attacked and captured by the Mackenzies in 1672. The castle burned down in 1737 and before the Mackenzies were able to rebuild the house, their estates had been seized by the Crown for their support of the losing side in the 1745 uprising. It has remained a ruin ever since then.
Kelburn Castle is a large house near Fairlie, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Kelburn is most known for its unique graffiti wall which was designed by four Brazilian artists in 2007. In 1977 the historic castle estate was opened to the public as a multi-purpose family attraction, with gardens and grounds, family attractions, workshops, and special events taking place regularly. One of the most breath taking features is the Kelburn Glen with its waterfalls and deep gorges, it is regarded as one of Scotland’s most beautiful woodlands and leads to spectacular views over the islands of the Firth of Clyde.
There is no denying that Aberdeen isn’t known for its historical culture, however when you travel 30 minutes south to Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle captures more beauty and endless historical information you could ever imagine. Although it costs to enter the actual castle, even just standing in the grounds before the ruin are worth the journey. When you reach the cliff edge you can get views of the castle itself and Stonehaven in the background. An interesting fact about Dunnottar Castle is that it has been burnt to the ground a number of times, most interestingly by the Scottish themselves to try and kill the invading English.