6 Most Famous Castles in Scotland

March 23, 2018 by
Alex hiking in Connemara
POSTED BY March 23, 2018

Scotland has a rich and deep history involving royal families, wars, architecture and culture. The castles in Scotland are testament to this. Each one has their own unique history embedded into the land surrounding it. Take a look at our list of the most famous castles in Scotland.

Castles in Scotland

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle is best known for its breathtaking location, perched above some cliffs on a narrow headland.

In its heyday, Dunnottar Castle was a small but impregnable fortress, once holding off Cromwellian forces to protect the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace and the Earls Marischal (one of the most powerful families at the time) have all inhabited the castle, truly giving to its historic and famous legacy.

Dunnottar Castle in Scotland

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is considered to be one of the most important castles in Scottish history.

It sits perched above a crag and surrounded by cliffs on 3 sides, making it a formidable fortress which was very difficult to attack.

It is not known exactly when Stirling Castle was established there, however it has changed hands many times in its turbulent history.

During the wars of independence in Scotland, the castle was used as a fortress by many a King and Queen.

Stirling Castle in Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle was used as the royal residence up until the mid-17th century.

After this, the castle was primarily used as a military barracks.

The castle stands on Castle Rock in Edinburgh and dominates the city’s skyline.

It help a fantastic strategic position, with a 360 degree view of the surrounding city and landscape.

Perched on the rock and surrounded by steep inclines, the castle would have been difficult to attack. Regardless, there have been roughly 26 sieges on this castle, making it officially one of the most attacked places in the world.

Edinburgh Castle in Scotland

Balmoral Castle

In 1856, the current Balmoral Castle was built and the old one demolished.

The reason for this was that the previous castle on the Balmoral Estate was deemed to be too small as a residence of the royal family.

Balmoral Estate covers roughly 50,000 acres and contains forestry, farmland, a herd of deers and highland cattle.

Balmoral Castle in Scotland

Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is the residence of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth, although the historical King MacBeth has no connection to this castle.

There are several legends associated with this castle, such as the Monster of Glamis. Iterations of this story tell of a deformed child born to the family and kept locked up in the castle and the bedroom bricked up after his death.

Another iteration is that a vampire is born in each generation of the family and is kept in the bricked up room.

An old story once told of guests hanging towels out of every window of the castle. When they looked from the outside, several windows did not have towels, seemingly confirming the story of the bricked up room.

Glamis Castle in Scotland

Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle is the second semi-ruined castle on this list, following Dunnottar Castle.

The castle was built by building one single wall blocking the headland, while the remaining three sides of the castle are protect by the sea and sea cliffs.

It remained the hands of its original constructors, the Douglas family, despite several sieges during its history.

Tantallon Castle in Scotland