Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

Skipness Castle Ruins

Skipness Castle was built in the early 13th century by the Clan MacSween with later fortifications and other additions made to the castle through the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries. The castle was garrisoned with royal troops in 1494 during King James IV of Scotland"s suppression of the Isles. Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll granted Skipness to his younger son Archibald Campbell in 1511. During the Wars of the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Portaferry Castle

Portaferry Castle is a small tower house in built in the 16th century by William Le Savage. In 1635, Patrick Savage"s brother-in-law, Sir James Montgomery of Rosemount (Greyabbey), repaired the castle by roofing and flooring it so that his sister could live in greater comfort there. It is a square building with a small projecting turret on the south corner. It is three storeys high plus attic and there is no vau ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Portaferry, United Kingdom

Scalloway Castle

Scalloway Castle was built from 1599 by Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney to tighten his grip on Shetland. The Stewart family, as Earls of Orkney and Shetland, had a dramatic impact on both groups of islands. Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney was the illegitimate son of James V of Scotland and one of his mistresses, Euphemia Elphinstone. He was born in 1533, and in 1564 he was given the recreated Earldom of Orkney and ...
Founded: 1599 | Location: Shetland, United Kingdom

Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle was the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Gordon, Earl of Huntly. Architecturally the castle consists of a well-preserved five-story tower with an adjoining great hall and supporting buildings. Areas of the original ornate facade and interior stonework remain. A mound in the grounds of the castle is all that remains of an earlier 12th century motte. Originally named Strathbogie, the castle was gra ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Huntly, United Kingdom

Duart Castle

Duart Castle dates back to the 13th century and is the seat of Clan MacLean. In 1647, Duart Castle was attacked and laid siege to by the Argyll government troops of Clan Campbell, but they were defeated and driven off by the Royalist troops of Clan MacLean. In September 1653, a Cromwellian task force of six ships anchored off the castle, but the Macleans had already fled to Tiree. A storm blew up on the 13 September and t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Isle of Mull, United Kingdom

Strangford Castle

Strangford Castle appears to be a small tower house from the late 16th century, but a blocked door of 15th century type at first floor level, seems to indicate the remodelling of an earlier tower. The current entrance, in the north-east wall, is a reconstruction, positioned by the surviving corbelled machicolation above and a socket from a draw-bar to secure the original door. The original entrance may have been on th ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Strangford, United Kingdom

Drum Castle

Drum Castle was for centuries the seat of Clan Irvine. The original 13th-century tower of Drum Castle has been suggested as the work of medieval architect Richard Cementarius, who built the Bridge of Don in Old Aberdeen. It is believed to be one of the three oldest tower houses in Scotland (and notably unaltered). A large wing was added in 1619 by the 9th laird, and further alterations were made during the Victor ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Drumoak, United Kingdom

Fort Regent

The construction of the Fort Regent fortress we see today began on 7 November 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars, with the laying of a foundation stone by George Don the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. The fort was built using local workers and men from the Royal Engineers, with an average of 800 men working at any given time. This enabled the substantial amount of work to be completed 8 years later, in 1814. It was given th ...
Founded: 1814 | Location: Jersey, United Kingdom

Lews Castle

Lews Castle was built in the years 1847-1857 as a country house for Sir James Matheson who had bought the whole island a few years previously with his fortune from the Chinese Opium trade. It was designed by the Glasgow architect Charles Wilson. In 1918, the Lewis estate including the castle was bought by industrialist Lord Leverhulme from the Matheson family. He gave the castle to the people of Stornoway parish in 1923. ...
Founded: 1847-1857 | Location: Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom

Fraser Castle

Fraser Castle is the most elaborate Z-plan castle in Scotland. The castle stands in over 1.2 km2 of landscaped grounds, woodland and farmland which includes a walled kitchen garden of the 19th century. There is archaeological evidence of an older square tower dating from around 1400 or 1500 within the current construction. Originally known as Muchall-in-Mar, construction of the elaborate, five-storey Z-plan castl ...
Founded: 1575-1636 | Location: Kemnay, United Kingdom

Kinbane Castle

A two-storey Kinbane castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell, brother of Sorley Boy MacDonnell, with a large courtyard with traces of other buildings, probably constructed out of wood. In 1551 the castle was besieged by English forces under Lord Deputy, Sir James Croft, in the course of an expedition against the MacDonnell"s. Another siege in 1555 by English forces, the castle was partly destroyed by cannon ...
Founded: 1547 | Location: Ballycastle, United Kingdom

Castle of Mey

The Castle of Mey (formerly Barrogill Castle) and surrounding lands belonged to the Bishops of Caithness. The castle of Mey was built between 1566 and 1572, possibly on the site of an earlier fortification, by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness. Originally a Z-plan tower house of three storeys, it had a projecting wing at the south-east, and a square tower at the north-west. The Castle passed to George Sinclair"s youn ...
Founded: 1566-1572 | Location: Caithness, United Kingdom

Braemar Castle

From the Late Middle Ages the Braemar castle was a stronghold of the Earls of Mar. The present castle was constructed in 1628 by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar as a hunting lodge and to counter the rising power of the Farquharsons, replacing an older building, which was the successor of nearby Kindrochit Castle, which dates from the 11th century AD. The siting of Kindrochit Castle was based upon the strategic locat ...
Founded: 1628 | Location: Braemar, United Kingdom

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom

Glenarm Castle

There has been a castle at Glenarm since the 13th century, where it resides at the heart of one of Northern Ireland"s oldest estates. The present castle was built by Sir Randal MacDonnell, 1st Earl of Antrim, in 1636, and it has remained in the family since its construction. It is currently owned by Randal, Viscount Dunluce, the son of Alexander McDonnell, 9th Earl of Antrim. The McDonnells have been in Glenarm ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Glenarm, United Kingdom

Gylen Castle

Gylen Castle was built in 1582 by the Clan MacDougall. Gylen was only occupied for a relatively short period of time. The castle was besieged then burned by the Covenanters under General Leslie in 1647 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In May 2006 a restoration of the castle was completed with a £300,000 grant by Historic Scotland and £200,000 raised by worldwide members of Clan MacDougall.
Founded: 1582 | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker is a four-storey tower house or keep set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich. The island castle"s picturesque appearance, with its bewitching island setting against a dramatic backdrop of mountains, has made it a favourite subject for postcards and calendars, and something of a cliché image of Scottish Highland scenery. Castle Stalker is entirely authentic; it is one of the best-preserved medieval to ...
Founded: 1440s | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Kildrummy Castle

The ruined Kildrummy Castle is one of the most extensive castles dating from the 13th century to survive in eastern Scotland, and was the seat of the Earls of Mar. It is owned today by Historic Scotland and open to the public. The castle was probably built in the mid-13th century under Gilbert de Moravia. It has been posited that siting of Kildrummy Castle was influenced by the location of the Grampian Mounth trackwa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kildrummy, United Kingdom

Carnasserie Castle

Carnasserie Castle is a ruined 16th-century tower house built by reforming churchman John Carswell, who was Rector of Kilmartin, Chancellor of the Chapel Royal at Stirling, and later titular Bishop of the Isles. Construction began in 1565 using masons brought from Stirling. Although the castle was notionally built for Carswell"s patron, the Earl of Argyll, he intended it as a personal residence for himself. On Carsw ...
Founded: 1565 | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Dunseverick Castle Ruins

Dunseverick Castle is located on the peninsula near the small village of Dunseverick and the Giant"s Causeway. Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited Dunseverick castle in the 5th century AD, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. The original stone fort that occupied the position was attacked by Viking raiders in 870 AD. In the later part of the 6th century AD, th ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Dunseverick, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens

Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).

It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.

After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.

UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.

Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.