Medieval castles in Scotland

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 The first historical reference to the castle is from 1246.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

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is considered to be one of the earliest seats of Clan Sinclair. It was built by William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl of Caithness, probably sometime between 1476 and 1496, but before his death at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. In 1577, George Sinclair, the 4th Earl of Caithness imprisoned his own son John, Master of Caithness in Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, on suspicion of rebelling against his rule. He w ...
Founded: 1476-1496 | Location: Caithness, United Kingdom

Strome Castle Ruins

Strome Castle was originally built by the Macdonald Earls of Ross. Later in 1472 the castle was owned by the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh and Alan MacDonald Dubh, 12th Chief of the Clan Cameron was constable on behalf of the MacDonalds of Lochalsh. In 1539 King James V of Scotland granted the castle to the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry and Hector Munro, chief of the Clan Munro was constable of the castle for the MacDonalds o ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Lochcarron, 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

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

Rosyth Castle

Rosyth Castle is a fifteenth-century ruined tower house on the perimeter of Rosyth Naval Dockyard. It originally stood on a small island in the Firth of Forth accessible only at low tide, and dates from around 1450, built as a secure residence by Sir David Stewart, who had been granted the Barony of Rosyth in 1428. The original tower house was enlarged and extended in the 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1572 it was at ...
Founded: c. 1450 | Location: Barham Road, United Kingdom

Kinnaird Castle

Kinnaird castle has been home to the Carnegie family, the Earls of Southesk, for more than 600 years. In 1400 Duthac Carnegie married Mariota of Kinnaird and the Castle dates from that time. Early records were lost in 1452 when the castle was burnt down after the battle of Brechin. The Carnegies were, for once, on the winning side supporting the King but unfortunately the Earl of Crawford, who was on the losing side, took ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Brechin, United Kingdom

Dunscaith Castle Ruins

Dunscaith Castle is named after and was the home of the warrior maiden Scáthach. The castle itself sits on an off-shore rock. There is a gap between the rock and the mainland which was once spanned by a walled bridge. This stone walled bridge then led onto a drawbridge, the pivot holes for which are still visible on the far side. Once on the other side of the drawbridge a door opened to a flight of stairs which was also ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Isle of Skye, United Kingdom

Drumin Castle

Drumin Castle is a ruined tower house near Glenlivet, Moray. The lands were granted by King Robert II to his son Alexander Stewart in the early 1370s. It passed from the Stewart family to the Gordon family in 1490. The castle was abandoned in the 18th century and fell into disrepair.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ballindalloch, United Kingdom

Carrick Castle

The present Carrick Castle is possibly the third on this location. The first may have been a Viking fort. The second structure, and first castle, is believed to have been built in the 12th century. Allegedly a hunting seat of the Scots kings, Carrick was originally a Lamont stronghold. In the spring of 1307, Robert the Bruce drove Henry Percy from the Castle before conducting a guerrilla war against Edward I of England. E ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Dunnideer Castle Ruins

Dunnideer Castle, now ruined, was a tower house located near Insch, Aberdeenshire. It was built c. 1260 partially from the remains of an existing vitrified hill fort in the same location. It consisted of a single rectangular tower of 15m by 12.5m with walls 1.9m thick. Evidence suggests that a first-floor hall existed. Evidence shows it had several floors. The tower house is built within an older prehistoric vitri ...
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Insch, United Kingdom

Castle Roy

Castle Roy is one of the oldest castles of its type in Scotland unique in that it is largely unaltered, whilst most other castles have been extensively modified over the centuries. The castle is thought to have been built at some point in the early 13th century, replacing an earlier wooden motte and bailey keep of Norman influenced design. In accordance with its early design it is one of Scotland’s simplest forts co ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Caisteal Maol

Caisteal Maol (Castle Moil) was an ancient seat of the Mackinnon clan. It was a fortress commanding the strait of Kyle Akin between Skye and the mainland, through which all ships had to pass or else attempt the stormy passage of The Minch. The present building dates back to the 15th century, but is traditionally reputed to be of much earlier origin. According to that tradition, Alpín mac Echdach"s great-grandson F ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Isle of Skye, United Kingdom

Ardtornish Castle Ruins

Ardtornish Castle stands at the seaward end of a promontory which extends in a southerly direction into the Sound of Mull, approximately a mile south-east of the village of Lochaline, Highland. The castle was one of the principal seats of the high chiefs of Clan Donald from the early 14th to late 15th century. It was at Ardtornish Castle that John of Islay, Lord of the Isles, 6th chief of Clan Donald died in the 1380s an ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Morvern, United Kingdom

Almond Castle

Almond Castle is a ruined L-plan castle dating from the 15th century. The estate originally belonged to the Crawford family, and they built the castle in about 1470. In about 1540 it passed by marriage to the Livingstones, who built an extension at the south west. They also built an extension along the south east wall in 1586. When James Livingstone was created Baron Livingstone of Almond in 1633 the castle’s name was c ...
Founded: c. 1470 | Location: Linlithgow, United Kingdom

Borthwick Castle

Borthwick Castle is one of the largest and best-preserved surviving medieval Scottish fortifications. The castle was built at the site of an earlier structure, and it remains the Borthwick family ancestral seat. Sir William Borthwick, later the 1st Lord, obtained from King James I on 2 June 1430 a licence to erect a castle or fortalice. It was originally a stone enclosure fortress centring on an unusually tall tower house ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Gorebridge, United Kingdom

Dunyvaig Castle Ruins

Dunyvaig Castle was built on top of an ancient fort or dun in the 12th century. Forfeited in 1493, the castle passed to the MacIans of Ardnamurchan. Afterwards the castle was leased to the MacDonalds, then the Campbells and back to the MacDonalds. In the 17th century Dunyvaig was conquered several times by the English and Scottish armies. The castle was seized in 1647 by the Covenanters and passed into the hands of the C ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Islay, United Kingdom

Dingwall Castle Ruins

Dingwall Castle is believed to have been established by Norse settlers in the area in the 11th century. During the Wars of Scottish Independence the castle was garrisoned by the forces of king Edward I of England. However it was later captured by Scottish forces for king Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) led by Uilleam II, Earl of Ross. From the castle, the Earl of Ross (chief of Clan Ross) led the men of Ross to f ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Dingwall, United Kingdom

Moy Castle

Moy Castle was built in the 15th century by Hector Reaganach Maclean, 1st Laird of Lochbuie. It has a three level tower with a garret. The ground floor contains a well. It was captured from the Macleans of Lochbuie by Clan Campbell, but later returned to the Maclaines. The castle was captured from the MacLaines and garrisoned by Campbell followers but later returned to the MacLaines. It was abandoned as a residence in 175 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Isle of Mull, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.