Top Historic Sights in Highland, United Kingdom

Explore the historic highlights of Highland

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle dominates a rocky promontory jutting into Loch Ness. That promontory has hosted some famous names in its long history. Around AD 580 St Columba was making the long journey from his monastery on the island of Iona to the court of Bridei, king of the Picts, at Inverness. As he was passing up Loch Ness, he was called to the residence of an elderly Pictish nobleman at Airdchartdan (Urquhart). Emchath was close ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands. When you first set eyes on it, it is easy to understand why so many people flock to its stout doors year after year. Strategically located on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, at the point where three great sea-lochs meet ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. It is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s. Dunrobin Castle has been called home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century and was first mentioned as a stronghold of the family in 1401. The castle stands possibly on the site of an ...
Founded: 13th/19th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel. The West Highland Railway was built to Fort William by Lucas and Aird, but there were delays with the West Highland Railway Mallaig Extension (Guarantee) bill for the Mallaig Extension Railway in the House of Commons as the T ...
Founded: 1897-1901 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Culloden Battlefield

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Queen Anne had died in 1714 without any surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the ...
Founded: 1746 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Ardvreck Castle Ruins

Ardvreck Castle is thought to have been constructed around 1590 by the Clan MacLeod family who owned Assynt and the surrounding area from the 13th century onwards. Clan MacKenzie attacked and captured Ardvreck Castle in 1672, and then took control of the Assynt lands. In 1726 they constructed a more modern manor house nearby, Calda House, which takes its name from the Calda burn beside which it stands. A fire destroyed th ...
Founded: 1590 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Tioram Castle Ruins

Castle Tioram ruins sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart, Lochaber. The castle is the traditional seat of Clan MacDonald of Clan Ranald, a branch of Clan Donald. It was seized by Government forces around 1692 when Clan Chief Allan of Clanranald joined the Jacobite Court in France, despite having sworn allegiance to the British Crown. A small garrison was stationed in the castle until the Jacobite Uprisin ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Ackergill Tower

Ackergill Tower was built in the early 16th century. The Clan Keith, under John Keith of Inverugie, inherited the lands of Ackergill in 1354 from the Cheynes family. The Tower may have been built by his son, but was first mentioned in 1538. A legend relates the tale of a young woman by the name of Helen Gunn, who was abducted by John Keith for her beauty. She flung herself, or fell, from the highest tower to escape her a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Dun Dornaigil

Dun Dornaigil is an Iron Age broch in Sutherland. The broch has an external diameter of about 14.5 metres. The walls generally survive from 2 to 3 metres around the circumference of the broch, but above the doorway they rise to nearly 7 metres. The entrance is on the northeast side but is filled with debris. There is a massive triangular lintel over the entrance which measures 1.4 metres along the base, and 0.9 metres in ...
Founded: 300-0 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Grey Cairns of Camster

The Grey Cairns of Camster are two large Neolithic chambered cairns in the Highland region of Scotland. They are among the oldest buildings in Scotland, dating to about 5,000 years ago. The cairns demonstrate the complexity of Neolithic architecture, with central burial chambers accessed through narrow passages from the outside. They were excavated and restored by Historic Scotland in the late 20th century and are open to ...
Founded: 3000 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Carbisdale Castle

Carbisdale Castle was built in 1905-1917 for the Duchess of Sutherland on a hill across the Kyle of Sutherland. The castle has 365 windows, and the clock-tower only has clocks on three sides: the side facing Sutherland does not have a clock. There is a secret door below the Great Staircase which could be opened by rotating one of the statues. This mechanism is no longer in use. Until its closure, the castle had a large co ...
Founded: 1905-1917 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Castle Roy

Castle Roy is one of the oldest castles of its type in Scotland unique in that it is largely unaltered, whilst most other castles have been extensively modified over the centuries. The castle is thought to have been built at some point in the early 13th century, replacing an earlier wooden motte and bailey keep of Norman influenced design. In accordance with its early design it is one of Scotland’s simplest forts co ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Built some 4,000 years ago, Corrimony Cairn is a passage grave of the Clava type. Built by neolithic farmers, skilled in working stone, they were the first people to domesticate animals, till the land and clear the forests for farming, their society was cooperative. Corrimony Chambered Cairn was built for collective burials, the beliefs of the builders remain unknown, it is believed these people existed from 3,500BC to 1 ...
Founded: 2000 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Hill O Many Stanes

The Hill O Many Stanes is an area with about 200 upright stones, none more than a metre high. The rows are not parallel, however, and they create a fan-shaped pattern. This arrangement is believed to be a relic of Bronze Age times. In Megalithic Lunar Observatories (Oxford University Press, 1971) Alexander Thom presented evidence that the stone rows were in effect a Bronze Age lunar observatory, tracking lunar movements ...
Founded: 2000 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Ballone Castle

Ballone Castle is a large late 16th century Z-plan tower house. It consists of a main block of three storeys and a garret, and a round tower and square stair-tower projecting from opposite corners. There are two ruined stair turrets. Corelled-out bartizans crown the corners, and have shot-holes and stone roofs. A courtyard enclosed ranges of buildings, including a bakehouse. The arched entrance, at the foot of one stair- ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Carn Liath

Càrn Liath is an Iron Age broch on the eastern shore of the Scottish Highlands. The broch has an external diameter of around 19 metres and an internal diameter of around 10 metres. The entrance passage is on the east side and is over 4 metres long. The entrance has elaborate door checks and a bar-hole to control access to the interior. On the right-hand side of the entrance passage is a small guard cell. The surrou ...
Founded: 300 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Keills Chapel

Keills Chapel is a simple, rectangular chapel dedicated to St Cormac. It is one of few churches from the 1100s and 1200s surviving in Argyll. The chapel served as the parish church of Knapdale until the parish was split into two in 1734. The church site contains almost 40 carved stones, ranging in date from the 8th to the 16th century. Pre-eminent among them is the 8th-century Keills Cross. This free-standing, ring-heade ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Invergarry Castle

Invergarry Castle was the seat of the Chiefs of the MacDonells of Glengarry, a powerful branch of the Clan MacDonald. It was burned down in 1654 by General Monk, then rebuilt c.1660-1665. After the 1745 uprising Invergarry Castle was sacked and partially destroyed by troops under 'Butcher' Cumberland as part of the systematic suppression of the Highlands. Edward Ellice (1781-1863) was a Director of the Hudson Bay company ...
Founded: 1660-1665 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Mingarry Castle Ruins

Mingarry Castle was considered a strategically important site in terms of communication with overseas areas and as an entranceway to the Sound of Mull. Originally built in the 13th century for the Clan MacDonald of Ardnamurchan, the castle has had many different occupants. King James IV of Scotland used it as a stronghold for fighting off Clan Donald in the late 15th century. In 1515 the castle was besieged by the Clan Ma ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Kilravock Castle

Kilravock Castle was originally built around 1460 and has been the seat of the Clan Rose since that time. The castle is a composite of a 15th-century tower house and several later additions. The lands were owned by the Boscoe family and it passed via marriage of Andrew Boscoe to his wife Elizabeth Bissett of the Bissett family in the 12th century, after Bosco"s death his widow then deposed the lands via marriage of t ...
Founded: c. 1460 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Kinlochaline Castle

Kinlochaline Castle is a 12th-century Scottish castle located at the head of Loch Aline, positioned strategically for coastal defence. Four stories tall, 43 by 34 feet, with walls that are 10 feet thick blocks of rare sandstone. The castle was burned in 1644, when it was besieged by Alasdair Mac Colla during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The castle was attacked by the Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll in 1679, duri ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Crosskirk Broch

Crosskirk Broch was a fortification near the present day hamlet of Crosskirk. After thorough archaeological exploration it was destroyed in 1972 since the site had become unsafe due to sea erosion. The site was unusual in having a broch, a large circular fortification, built within an older promontory fortification with a ring wall and blockhouse. Crosskirk was occupied at the end of the Bronze Age. From the early Iron A ...
Founded: 200 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Keiss Castle Ruins

Keiss Castle is a partially ruined castle which was replaced by the Keiss House around 1755. The old castle was built possibly on the site of an earlier fort in the late 16th or early 17th century by George 5th Earl of Caithness (1582-1643). It seems the castle was in existence in 1623 when James I commissioned Sir Robert Gordon to enter Caithness with an armed force. The 7th Earl died in the castle in 1698 but it is repo ...
Founded: c. 1600 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Erchless Castle

Erchless Castle was built in the 13th century by the Bissetts and it came into the hands of the Chisholms. It was remodelled in the early 17th century as an L-plan tower house and underwent further alterations in the 19th century with the addition of a Baronial-style wing in 1895. During World War II the castle was said to have been requisitioned by the military for use as a rest centre for staff employed in entertaining ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Lochindorb Castle Ruins

Lochindorb Castle is a former stronghold of the Clan Comyn and is built on what now is said to be an artificially created island. The castle is first recorded during the Wars of Independence when Sir John ('the Black') Comyn died there in 1300. By 1455 the castle was in the hands of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray, The next year, after Douglas's defeat and death at Arkinholm, Lochindorb was again forfeited to the Crown a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Rait Castle Ruins

Rait Castle is a ruined hall-house castle dating from the 13th century. The remains of the courtyard walls are nine feet high and also contain the remains of the Chapel of St Mary of Rait. The building was a two story building, measuring 20 metres by 10 metres. It had an unvaulted basement and an upper hall. The hall was entered from the outside and was protected by a portcullis and a drawbar. The walls of the castle are ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Skibo Castle

Although the Skibo Castle dates back to the 12th century, the present structure is largely of the 19th century, and early 20th century, when it was the home of industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It is now operated as the Carnegie Club, a members-only hotel and country club. The first record of Skibo Castle is a charter from 1211. From its early history, the castle was a residence of the Bishops of Caithness. Skibo Castle rem ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Dalcross Castle

Dalcross Castle is a classic Scottish tower house complete with a beamed Great Hall and large fireplace, a stone spiral main staircase, a secret staircase, turret rooms, shot holes and arrow slits and leaded windows in the Sitting Room. Guests have the use of the beautifully landscaped gardens. Built by Simon, first Lord Lovat, in 1620 and held by the Lovat Frasers until 1703 Dalcross Castle then became the home of the M ...
Founded: 1620 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Dounreay Castle Ruins

Dounreay Castle dates from the late 16th century, and is one of the few remaining examples of a Scottish Laird’s castle from that period. William Sinclair of Dunbeath, descended from a younger brother of John Sinclair, third Earl of Caithness, built the castle in the 1560s. It was damaged in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army during their Scottish campaign. Now entirely ruined, the castle was still inhab ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Castle Grant

Castle Grant was the former seat of the Clan Grant chiefs of Strathspey in Highlands. The castle is a Z-plan tower house that dates from the fifteenth century. The lands had been held by the Clan Comyn but passed to the Grants in the fifteenth century and it became their main stronghold. Although the Grants were Protestants they joined James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose during the Scottish Civil War in the 1640s. The ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Dunbeath Castle

Dunbeath castle is first recorded on the rocky peninsula at Dunbeath in 1428, when the lands belonged to the Earl of Caithness. The first recorded laird was Alexander Sutherland. It later became the property of the Clan Sinclair through the marriage of the daughter of Alexander Sutherland to William Sinclair (1410–1484), the first Sinclair Earl of Caithness. The Sinclairs replaced the earlier structure with a four-store ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Forse Castle Ruins

Forse Castle ruins dates from c. 1200 in the hamlet of Forse. The castle stands on a peninsula about 50 metres above sea level. It is surrounded on all sides by steep rocks and is cut off from the mainland by a natural ditch at the neck of the peninsula. Forse Castle was the stronghold of the Sutherland of Forse family, a cadet branch of the Clan Sutherland. They lived in it until around 1600.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Castle Leod

Castle Leod is the seat of the Clan Mackenzie. The castle is believed to have been built on the site of a very ancient Pictish fort from before the 12th century. The current castle is the result of work carried out in the early 17th century by Sir Roderick Mackenzie. The castle has remained the seat of the Earls of Cromartie ever since. In 1746 George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie, forfeited the estate, following his ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Ousdale Broch

Ousdale Broch is an Iron Age broch located near the small settlement of Ousdale. It has an external diameter of around 16 metres. The main entrance is on the southwest and is 4.3 metres long with nearly all the roofing lintels still in position. The entrance passage is 1.78 metres high and 75 centimetres wide. The entrance passage contains two sets of door-checks, and there is also a guard-cell. The interior of the broch ...
Founded: 300-100 BC | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.