Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

Castle Stuart

Castle Stuart is a restored tower house on the banks of the Moray Firth. The land the castle was built on was granted to James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray by his half-sister, Mary, Queen of Scots, following her return to Scotland in 1561. The successive murders of Stewart and his son-in-law, James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Moray, meant that the castle was finally completed by his grandson, James Stuart, 3rd Earl of Moray, in 16 ...
Founded: 1619-1625 | Location: Inverness, United Kingdom

Abergeldie Castle

The name of Abergeldie Castle derives from the Pictish language, and means the 'Confluence of Geldie.' A late Bronze Age standing stone on the lawn of the castle is one indicator of the great antiquity of this site, and its long occupation by man. It also has one of the longest unbroken records of ownership, being in the hands of the Gordon family for 600 years. The current tower house was most likely built ...
Founded: c. 1550 | Location: Crathie, United Kingdom

Invercauld Castle

Invercauld Castle is a country house which grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The Farquharson family settled in the area in the 14th century, and constructed a tower house in the 16th century. A vaulted basement within the present building dates from this time, although the tower house was remodelled in the late 17th century. Further alterations were made through ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Braemar, United Kingdom

Muchalls Castle

Muchalls Castle stands overlooking the North Sea in the countryside of Kincardine and Mearns. The lower course is a well preserved Romanesque, double-groined 13th century towerhouse structure, built by the Frasers of Muchalls. Upon this structure, the 17th-century castle was begun by Alexander Burnett of Leys and completed by his son, Sir Thomas Burnett, 1st Baronet, in 1627. The Burnetts of Leys built the remain ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Muchalls, United Kingdom

Balnagown Castle

There has been a castle on the site of current Balnagown Castle since the 14th century, although the present building was remodelled in the 18th and 19th centuries. Balnagown is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan Ross. In the early 14th century, a castle was begun at Balnagown by Hugh, Mormaer (Earl) of Ross. Hugh was husband of Maud, sister of King Robert the Bruce, although after Hugh"s death in 1333, his fa ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Kildary, United Kingdom

Beaufort Castle

The present Beaufort castle is a Baronial style mansion built in 1880, but incorporates older building work. There has been a castle on the site since the 12th century. Beaufort is the traditional seat of the Lords Lovat. The earliest mention of the site, as Downie or Dounie Castle, occurs in the reign of Alexander I (1106–1124), when a siege took place. The original castle was built by the Byset family. The castle ...
Founded: 1880 | Location: Beauly, 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

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

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

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

Moniack Castle

Moniack Castle is a tower house built in 1580 by members of the Clan Fraser. Today the castle grounds comprise a winery, which is still owned and operated by Frasers. The L-plan castle has been altered many times since its construction. The crenellated parapet was added in 1804 and the castle was extended in the 1830s. The interiors include a Roman Catholic chapel. In the grounds of the castle is the Balblair Stone, a Pic ...
Founded: 1580 | Location: Inverness, United Kingdom

Kilcoy Castle

Kilcoy Castle was built around 1580 by the Stewart family, and completed by Alexander Mackenzie, third son of Colin Cam Mackenzie of Kintail around 1618. As a result of his marriage (contract 15 August 1611) to the widow of Sir James Stewart of Kilcoy, he had a charter of the lands of Kilcoy dated 18 July 1616 and a further charter of the Barony of Kilcoy dated 29 January 1618. The estates passed through the male line of ...
Founded: 1580 | Location: Tore, United Kingdom

Birse Castle

Birse Castle is located in the Forest of Birse, Aberdeenshire. The original structure was a square three-storey tower house with turrets and a corbelled circular tower at the south east. The building is owned by Viscount Cowdry, Dunecht House, Dunecht, Aberdeen. The castle was built about 1600 for the Gordons of Cluny. When the Gordons built Birse Castle, they encroached upon The Forest of Birse, which consisted of about ...
Founded: 1600 | Location: Forest of Birse, United Kingdom

Cairnbulg Castle

Cairnbulg Castle is a z-plan castle situated in Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire. Originally known as Philorth Castle, it was built in the early 14th century, destroyed in the winter of 1308–1309 in the Wars of Independence, and re-built by the Fraser family in 1380. Subsequently, a courtyard and outbuildings were added to the main tower. It is now open to the public by appointment only. Flora Fraser, 21st Lady Saltoun ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Cairnbulg, United Kingdom

Cluny Castle

Cluny Castle was originally built c.1604 by Sir Thomas Gordon as a Z-plan castle replacing either a house or small peel tower. Owned by three separate branches of Gordon families over the centuries, it was used to shelter Jacobite rebels in the mid-18th century. Extensive additions were made in 1820 to the design of architect John Smith when it was in the ownership of Colonel John Gordon. Two wings of the castl ...
Founded: 1604 | Location: Cluny, United Kingdom

Hatton Castle

Hatton Castle, formerly known as Balquholly Castle, origins from the early 1500s. Purchased by Alexander Duff of Hatton in 1709, the ownership has remained with members of the family into the 21st century. Construction of the present castellated mansion began in 1812 and was completed by 1814; it was at this time the name was changed to Hatton Castle. It has a round tower at each corner and incorporates sections of th ...
Founded: 1812-1814 | Location: Turriff, United Kingdom

Kinnairdy Castle

Kinnairdy Castle is built on land that belonged to the Innes family from the late 14th century; an earlier tower was probably built in about 1420, that replaced a wooden motte and bailey structure. The castle was sold by the Innes family to Sir James Crichton of Frendraught in 1629. Subsequently it came to the Reverend John Gregory in 1647, then passed to his brother David, a doctor who has been claimed to be const ...
Founded: 1420 | Location: Aberchirder, United Kingdom

Lauriston Castle

Once a royal fortress, Lauriston Castle can claim to be one of the oldest privately owned and inhabited castles in the region. By tradition, it was the stronghold of Giric, or Gregory the Great, one of the last of the Pictish kings (AD 878–889). The site of his church of Ecclesgreig is nearby and he gave his Latin name, Ciricius, to St. Cyrus. Lauriston’s first charter is dated 1243 and it soon developed into a c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: St Cyrus, United Kingdom

Pittulie Castle

Pittulie Castle is an oblong tower house probably dating from the late 16th century. The present castle probably replaced a previous castle on the site. It is thought that the castle was built for the marriage of Alexander Fraser and Margaret Abernethy of Saltoun in 1596. The Cumines acquired and enlarged the property. It was purchased by Sir William Forbes towards the end of the 18th century, but subsequently aban ...
Founded: 1596 | Location: Rosehearty, United Kingdom

Terpersie Castle

Terpersie Castle is a 16th-century tower house in Tullynessle. The small Z-plan tower house was constructed in 1561 by the Gordon family. In 1665 it was restored after burning down. After 1885 it was abandoned, and stood in ruins during most of the 20th century. In the 1980s the castle was restored as a residence by architects William Cowie Partnership. Terpersie is one of the earliest known Z-plan castles, defin ...
Founded: 1561 | Location: Tullynessle, 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.