Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

St Quintins Castle

St Quintins Castle site was first occupied with a defensive structure in about 1102 and the gatehouse and further building work took place around 1312. It was later used as a prison and was reported as being in a ruinous state by 1741. Around 1102 Robert Fitzhamon, the first Norman Lord of Glamorgan bequeathed the lands of Llanblethian as a lordship to Herbert de St Quentin who is thought to have built the first fortific ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Cowbridge, United Kingdom

Thomaston Castle Ruins

Thomaston Castle is a medieval castle located west of Maybole, South Ayrshire. It looks much as it did hundreds of years ago. Little has changed, except for the addition of a house located on the property. The castle is run down and has debris falling in on it. Thomaston Castle was originally built in the 13th century for a nephew of Robert The Bruce, and first owned by Alan McIlvaine (b. 1500 in Ayrshire) whose family s ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Maybole, United Kingdom

Achnacarry Castle

Achnacarry Castle is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron. Ewen 'Eoghainn MacAilein' Cameron, XIII Chief of Clan Cameron, built the highly disputed Tor Castle in the early 16th century. Tor Castle would remain the seat of the Camerons of Lochiel until demolished by his great-great-great grandson, Sir Ewen 'Dubh' Cameron, XVII Chief. Sir Ewen Cameron wanted a 'more convenient' hou ...
Founded: 1655 | Location: Achnacarry, United Kingdom

Crookston Castle

Crookston Castle is surrounded by a defensive ring-ditch that dates back to the 12th century when Sir Robert de Croc, who also gave his name to the village of Crookston, built a timber and earth castle. Remains of a chapel founded by de Croc in 1180 have been uncovered. Evidence of an even earlier fortification on the same site has also been found. The lands of Crookston were bought by Sir Alan Stewart in 1330, and passed ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Findlater Castle

Findlater Castle is the old seat of the Earls of Findlater and Seafield, sitting on a 15m high cliff overlooking the Moray Firth on the coast of Banff and Buchan. The cliffs here contain quartz; the name 'Findlater' is derived not from Norse as earlier stated here, but from the Scots Gaelic words fionn ('white') and leitir ('cliff or steep slope'). The first historical reference to the castle is from 1246.  ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Banff, United Kingdom

Fonmon Castle

Fonmon Castle is a fortified medieval castle near the village of Fonmon in the Vale of Glamorgan. With its origins rooted in the 12th century it is today seen as a great architectural rarity, as it is one of few buildings that was drastically remodeled in the 18th century, but not Gothicized. The castle is believed to have remained under the ownership of just two families throughout its history; from Norman times, it was ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Barry, United Kingdom

Buchanan Castle

Buchanan Castle is a ruined country house in Stirlingshire. The house was commissioned by James Graham, 4th Duke of Montrose and built in 1852-1858 as a home for the Montrose family, serving as such until 1925. It was built as a replacement for Buchanan Auld House, which is located 0.8 km to the northwest but was destroyed in a fire in 1852. The old house and surrounding lands had been the property of the Clan Buchanan bu ...
Founded: 1852 | Location: Drymen, United Kingdom

Seafield Tower

Built in the 16th century (c. 1542), Seafield Tower lies between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy in Fife. The lands of Seafield and Markinch were granted to Robert Multrare by James II of Scotland in 1443. The lands and the tower remained in the ownership of the Multrare (or Moultrie as the family name became) until 1631 when the lands were sold to James Law, the Archbishop of Glasgow. With Law"s death in 1632, the tower pass ...
Founded: c. 1542 | Location: Kirkcaldy, 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

Fort Hommet

Fort Hommet (or Fort Houmet) was built on the site of fortifications dating back to 1680, and consists of a Martello tower from 1804, later additions during the Victorian Era, and bunkers and casemates that the Germans constructed during World War II. The Martello tower was constructed after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant GovernorGeneral Sir John Doyle. To simplify matte ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Alderney Fortifications

Apart from a Roman Fort, there were very few fortifications in Alderney until the mid 19th century. These were then modified and updated in the mid 20th Century by Germans during the occupation period. Alderney island is now one of the most fortified places in the world. Victorian Era The Victorian era fortifications were built after 1845 against the naval threat from France.  Completed in 1855, Fort Clonque, the most ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Alderney, United Kingdom

Neath Castle

The first castle in Neath was located west of the river near the Roman fort of Nidum, and was a timber fortification in a motte and bailey structure. When Richard de Grenville founded Neath Abbey close by, he abandoned this original castle, and it may have been used by the monks as a source of building material. A second castle on the opposite bank of the river, in what is now the centre of the town, is first documented ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neath, United Kingdom

Brechin Castle

Brechin Castle was constructed in stone during the 13th century. Most of the current building dates to the early 18th century, when extensive reconstruction was carried out by architect Alexander Edward for James Maule, 4th Earl of Panmure, between approximately 1696 and 1709. The castle is a Category A listed building and the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The groun ...
Founded: 1696-1709 | Location: Brechin, United Kingdom

Hunterston Castle

Hunterston Castle, West Kilbride, North Ayrshire is the historic home of the lairds of Clan Hunter. The keep dates from the late 15th, or early 16th centuries, while the attached manor house is of the 17th century. The estate was granted to the Hunters by David I of Scotland in the 12th century, and the heads of the clan have lived on the estate for the following 900 years.
Founded: 15th century | Location: West Kilbride, United Kingdom

Red Castle

The earliest structure on the site of Red Castle was built for King William the Lion in the late twelfth century to repel Viking invasions to Lunan Bay. Evidence shows, however, that William took up residence there on several occasions whilst on hunting expeditions. In 1194, William conferred the castle, and land surrounding the village of Inverkeilor, to Walter de Berkeley, the Great Chamberlain. On his death, his lands ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Montrose, United Kingdom

Killyleagh Castle

Killyleagh Castle dominates the small village and is believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country, with parts dating back to 1180. It follows the architectural style of a Loire Valley château, being redesigned by architect Sir Charles Lanyon in the mid-19th century. It has been owned by the Hamilton family since the early 17th century. Killyleagh was settled in the 12th century by Norman knight John ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Killyleagh, United Kingdom

Cortachy Castle

Cortachy Castle is a castellated mansion House at Cortachy, some four miles north of Kirriemuir. The present building dates from the 15th century, preceded by an earlier structure that was owned by the Earls of Strathearn. It was acquired by the Ogilvies in 1473 and substantively modified in the 17th and 19th centuries. In 1820 it was 'romanticised', as was the fashion of the day, by the addition of crenellatio ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Cortachy, United Kingdom

Johnstone Castle

Johnstone Castle belonged to the Houstouns of Milliken, who acquired the estate of Easter Cochrane in 1773. The original structure was substantially enlarged in 1771 and 1812 by George Houstoun, who had the structure remodelled in a castellated style complete with a turret at the left hand of the front elevation, possibly by the architect James Gillespie Graham. The most notable features were barrel vaulted rooms in the ...
Founded: 1771 | Location: Johnstone, United Kingdom

Narberth Castle

Narberth Castle is a ruined Norman fortress in the town of Narberth. The current ruins are undoubtedly Norman and seem to date from the 13th century, having been built by Andrew Perrot. However the castle is mentioned in the third branch of the Mabinogi as the place where Rhiannon was imprisoned and forced to carry travellers through the gates as penance for killing her son. Although there is some controversy over the act ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Narberth, United Kingdom

Shane's Castle

Shane"s Castle is a ruined castle near Randalstown in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The castle is on the north-east shores of Lough Neagh. Built in 1345 by a member of the O"Neill dynasty, it was originally called Eden-duff-carrick. Shane MacBrien O"Neill changed the name to Shane"s Castle in 1722. Multiple scenes of Game of Thrones series have been shot in and around the 2600-acre estate ...
Founded: 1345 | Location: Randalstown, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.