Castles and fortifications in 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

Dinefwr Castle

Dinefwr Castle lies on a ridge on the northern bank of the Tywi, with a steep drop of one hundred feet to the river. Dinefwr was the chief seat of the Kingdom of Deheubarth. The present castle is entered via a fortified entrance protected by a restored length of battlement. The short path from the car park gives an extensive view of the Towy valley. The door admits the visitor to the main space enclosed by the walls, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Llandeilo, 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

Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle, near Elgin, was a motte-and-bailey castle and was in use from c.1140 to 1705. During its occupation it underwent many alterations. Freskin (died before 1171) was a Flemish nobleman who settled in Scotland during the reign of King David I, becoming the progenitor of the Murray and Sutherland families, and possibly others. He built the great earthwork and timber motte-and-bailey castle in c. 1140 on boggy gr ...
Founded: c. 1140 | Location: Elgin, United Kingdom

Mugdock Castle

The lands of Mugdock were a property of the Grahams from the mid-13th century, when David de Graham of Dundaff acquired them from the Earl of Lennox. It is possible that the castle was built by his descendant, Sir David de Graham (d. 1376), or by his son in 1372. In 1458, the lands were erected into the Barony of Mugdock. Later, in 1505, the Grahams were created Earls of Montrose. The original castle may have been shield ...
Founded: c. 1372 | Location: Strathblane, United Kingdom

Oxwich Castle

Oxwich Castle occupies a position on a wooded headland overlooking Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsula, Wales. Although it may occupy the site of an earlier fortification, it is a castle in name only as it is a grand Tudor fortified manor house built in courtyard style. A charter of 1306 granted in Swansea refers to tenants of 'the ancient knight"s fees' (that is, military tenants) at Oxwich, and this ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Oxwich, United Kingdom

Elcho Castle

Elcho Castle is located a short distance above the south bank of the River Tay. It consists of a Z-plan tower house, with fragments of a surrounding wall with corner towers. The fastle was built on the site of an older structure about 1560, and is one of the best surviving examples of its date in Scotland. A large portion of the Castle is accessible, although floors in some rooms have fallen, and much of the building can ...
Founded: | Location: Perth, 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

Huntingtower Castle

Huntingtower Castle was built in stages from the 15th century by the Clan Ruthven family. It was known for several hundred years as the "House of Ruthven", until the family was forfeited for the Gowrie Conspiracy in 1600 and the Ruthven name was suppressed by Act of Parliament. In the summer of 1582, the castle was occupied by the 4th Lord Ruthven, who was also the 1st Earl of Gowrie, and his family. Gowrie was ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ruthvenfield, 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

Ravenscraig Castle

The construction of Ravenscraig Castle by the mason Henry Merlion and the master carpenter Friar Andres Lesouris was ordered by King James II (reigned 1437-1460) as a home for his wife, Mary of Guelders. The castle is considered one of the first - perhaps the very first - in Scotland to be built to withstand cannon fire and provide for artillery defence. The king was involved with the planning but, ironically, was killed ...
Founded: c. 1460 | Location: Kirkcaldy, United Kingdom

Clackmannan Tower

Clackmannan Tower is a five-storey tower house, situated at the summit of King"s Seat Hill in Clackmannan. It dates back to at least the 14th century, when it was inhabited by King David II of Scotland, and David is recorded as selling it to his cousin Robert Bruce in 1359. Clackmannan Tower is located on King"s Seat Hill, on the western edge of the town of Clackmannan in the Scottish county of Clackmannanshire ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Clackmannan, 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

Menzies Castle

Castle Menzies in Scotland is the ancestral seat of the Clan Menzies and the Menzies Baronets for over 500 years. Strategically situated, the sixteenth-century castle was involved in the turbulent history of the highlands. In 1840 an entirely new wing was added, designed by William Burn using stone from the same quarry on south side of Loch Tay. Duleep Singh, last maharajah of the Sikh Empire, lived at Castle Menzies ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Aberfeldy, United Kingdom

Airth Castle

Airth Castle overlooks the village of Airth and the River Forth. According to an account attributed to Blind Harry, in 1298 William Wallace attacked a previous wooden fortification on this site to rescue his imprisoned uncle, a priest from Dunipace. A later castle was destroyed after the defeat of King James III at Sauchieburn in 1488. The southwest tower is the earliest part, dating to the period immediately thereafter. ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Airth, United Kingdom

Loch Leven Castle

Loch Leven Castle is a ruined castle on an island in Loch Leven. Possibly built around 1300, the castle was the location of military action during the Wars of Scottish Independence (1296–1357). In the latter part of the 14th century, the castle was granted by his uncle to William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, and remained in the Douglases" hands for the next 300 years. Loch Leven Castle was strengthened in the 14th ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Kinross, United Kingdom

Picton Castle

Picton Castle was originally built at the end of the 13th century by a Flemish knight. Later it was moved to the hands of the Wogan family. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Sir John Wogan between 1295 and 1308. The design was unusual, there being no courtyard internally, the main building being protected by seven circular towers which projected from the wall. At the east end, tw ...
Founded: 1295-1308 | Location: Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Petersberg Citadel

The Petersberg Citadel is one of the largest extant early-modern citadels in Europe and covers the whole north-western part of the Erfurt city centre. It was built after 1665 on Petersberg hill and was in military use until 1963. It dates from a time when Erfurt was ruled by the Electors of Mainz and is a unique example of the European style of fortress construction. Beneath the citadel is an underground maze of passageways that can be visited on guided tours organised by Erfurt Tourist Office.

The citadel was originally built on the site of a medieval Benedictine Monastery and the earliest parts of the complex date from the 12th century. Erfurt has also been ruled by Sweden, Prussia, Napoleon, the German Empire, the Nazis, and post-World War II Soviet occupying forces, and it was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). All of these regimes used Petersberg Citadel and had an influence on its development. The baroque fortress was in military use until 1963. Since German reunification in 1990, the citadel has undergone significant restoration and it is now open to the public as a historic site.