Medieval castles in Scotland

Aros Castle Ruins

Aros castle was probably built by one of the MacDougall Lords of Lorn in the 13th century and was once the major stronghold of the Lords of the Isles. It first comes on record in the later 14th century when it was in the possession of the Lords of the Isles. It appears to have been garrisoned by Argyll’s troops in 1690, though it was described two years previously as ‘ruinous, old, useless and never of any Str ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Isle of Mull, United Kingdom

Dun Ara

Dun Ara was a stronghold of the MacKinnon clan who held the land here from 1354 onwards. The castle was still in use until the 17th century when it was abandoned. The castle was probably built on the site of a previous Dun or fort. The castle had a surrounding wall protecting a central keep or building on the main outcrop of rock. The location was valuable as it protected a harbour of boat landing as well. The castle was ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Isle of Mull, United Kingdom

Ardencaple Castle Tower

Today, all that remains of the Ardencaple Castle is a tower, perched on the edge of a plateau, looking down on a flat tract of land between it and the shore of the Firth of Clyde. The original castle was thought to have been built sometime in the 12th century, and part of the remains of the original castle were said to have existed in the 19th century. In 1957 most of the castle was demolished by the government in order t ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Helensburgh, United Kingdom

Dunderave Castle

Dunderave Castle is an L-plan castle built in the 16th century as the Scottish seat of the MacNaughton clan. The castle lies on a small promontory on the northern shores of Loch Fyne. The castle is in use as a residence. The present castle was built after their previous castle was destroyed following a Plague infection. The old castle, and remnants of McNaughton crannógs, can still be seen on the lochan known as th ...
Founded: c. 1500 | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Innes Chonnel Castle Ruins

Innes Chonnel Castle is a ruined 13th-century castle on an island on Loch Awe near Dalavich, Scotland. It was once a stronghold of Clan Campbell. The existing buildings belong to several different periods, the earliest surviving building being the inner bailey which was erected in the first half of the 13th century as a small, rectangular castle of enceinte. Within this, a number of buildings were grouped round a small, c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, 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

Coeffin Castle Ruins

Coeffin Castle was built on the site of a Viking fortress. The name Coeffin is thought to come from Caifen who was a Viking prince, and whose sister supposedly haunted the castle until her remains were taken back to be buried beside her lover in Norway. Coeffin Castle was built in the 13th century, probably by the MacDougalls of Lorn. Lismore was an important site within their lordship, being the location of St. Moluag's ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Kames Castle

Kames Castle is a castellated mansion house on the Isle of Bute. On the shore of Kames Bay near Port Bannatyne, the castle consists of a 14th-century tower, with a house built on it in the 18th Century. The Castle is set in 20 acres (81,000 m2) of planted grounds, including a two-acre 18th century walled garden. Originally the seat of the Bannatyne family, Kames is one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in Scotla ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Isle of Bute, United Kingdom

Kilmahew Castle Ruins

Kilmahew Castle was built upon the lands granted to the Napiers by Malcolm, the Earl of Lennox around the year 1290. The castle itself was built sometime in the 16th century by the Napier family, who owned it for 18 generations. The Napiers who owned Kilmahew are notable for being the progenitors of most of the Napiers in North America, as well as some of their members who had notable contributions in the field of enginee ...
Founded: c. 1290 | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Levan Tower House

Levan Castle is a fortified tower house in Levan area of Gourock, Inverclyde. A building had been on the site from the 14th century, but the present structure was substantially enlarged after 1547 and formed part of the Ardgowan Estates. In the 19th century a large mansion was built within a few metres of the ruined castle and was given the same name. The original castle was renovated in the 1980s. The castle has un ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Gourock, United Kingdom

Inverugie Castle

Inverugie Castle or Cheyne"s Tower is the ruins of a motte-and-bailey castle in Aberdeenshire. The ruins are a small mound only three metres high above the River Ugie. This is all that remains of a wooden motte-and-bailey castle of Inverugie built by the Cheynne family in the 12th century. The stone ruins date from later than the original building on the site. The location of the motte relative to the river at Inv ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Peterhead, United Kingdom

Foulis Castle

Foulis Castle is a white washed mansion that incorporates an old tower house with gun loops. The castle was held by the Clan Munro from the 12th century or earlier and they had a stronghold there. The remains of an 11th-century Motte (man-made mound topped by a wooden palisade), believed to be the very first fortification at Foulis, still remain in the castle grounds today. Foulis Castle itself is mentioned briefly in re ...
Founded: c. 1154 | Location: Evanton, 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

Duntrune Castle

Duntrune Castle is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied castle on mainland Scotland. It was originally built by the MacDougall clan in the 12th century, along with several other castles in the area, including the MacDougall stronghold of Dunollie Castle near Oban. Duntrune Castle was eventually taken by the Clan Campbell. In 1644, the castle was besieged by the rival MacDonalds, under Alasdair Mac Colla. The Cam ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Kildonan Castle Ruins

Kildonan Castle stands on the southern coast of the Isle of Arran. The castle"s name is derived from the name of a former resident, Saint Donan, who is said to be buried on the island. It was built in the 13th century by the MacDonalds, the Lords of the Isles. The castle stands on the cliffs, overlooking the island of Pladda and the entrance to the Firth of Clyde. It was built to defend against enemies attacking thro ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Isle of Arran, United Kingdom

Castle Sween

Castle Sween is thought to be one of the earliest stone castles built in Scotland, having been built sometime in the late twelfth century. The castle's towers were later additions to wooden structures which have now since vanished. Castle Sween takes its name from Suibhne, whose name was Anglicised as 'Sween'. He was thought to have built the castle. Suibhne was thought to have been a grandson of Hugh the Splendid O'Neil ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, 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

Inchmurrin Castle Ruins

At the Southwest tip of the Inchmurrin island are the ruins of the 14th century castle built by Duncan the Eighth Earl of Lennox. The castle is recorded as having been completed by 1393 and the Earls of Lennox took up residence in the 14th century when they moved from their castle in Balloch during the plague. The castle was composed of three rooms, outbuildings and a courtyard. King Robert the I is believed to have been ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: Inchmurrin, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.