Medieval castles in Scotland

Merchiston Tower

Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston around 1454. It serves as the seat for Clan Napier. It is perhaps most notable for being the home of John Napier, the 8th Laird of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms who was born there in 1550. Merchiston was probably built as a country house, but its strategic position and the turbulent political situation required it to be heavily f ...
Founded: c. 1454 | Location: Edinburgh, 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

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

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

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

Hallforest Castle Ruins

Hallforest Castle is a keep, one of the oldest in Scotland, as it dates from the 14th century. The castle is believed to have been built by Robert the Bruce as a hunting lodge; he is said to have granted it to Robert II Keith, Marischal of Scotland, the predecessor of the Earls of Kintore. Mary, Queen of Scots visited Hallforrest in 1562. The castle was frequently attacked during the 17th-century wars. It may ha ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kintore, United Kingdom

Udny Castle

The exact construction date of Udny Castle is unknown, but its foundations probably date from the late 14th or early 15th century. The castle was abandoned sometime around 1775 then repair work was undertaken in 1801. In 1964, restoration work was begun on the original tower house and the mansion house was demolished.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Pitmedden, United Kingdom

Cubbie Roo's Castle Ruins

Cubbie Roo"s Castle, built about 1150, is one of the oldest castles in Scotland and was mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga. It takes its name from Kolbein Hruga who was said to have lived there. In King Haakon"s saga, it is mentioned that after the last Norse Earl of Orkney, Earl John, was murdered in Thurso, his killers fled to Wyre. They took refuge in the castle, which was so strong that the besiegers had to th ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Orkney, 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

Mingarry Castle Ruins

Mingarry Castle was considered a strategically important site in terms of communication with overseas areas and as an entranceway to the Sound of Mull. Originally built in the 13th century for the Clan MacDonald of Ardnamurchan, the castle has had many different occupants. King James IV of Scotland used it as a stronghold for fighting off Clan Donald in the late 15th century. In 1515 the castle was besieged by the Clan Ma ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Castle Varrich Ruins

Castle Varrich precise origins and age are unknown. The ancient seat of the chief of the Clan Mackay was at Castle Varrich, thought to be over one thousand years old, there are believed to be caves under the castle which were once inhabited by the Mackays. It is believed to be possible that the Mackays built their castle on the site in the 14th century, on top of an existing old Norse fort. The walls are generally 1.4m t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Tongue, 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

Dunollie Castle Ruins

Dunollie Castle is a small ruined castle located on a hill north of the town of Oban. The castle is open to the public as part of the Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds. There was a fortification on this high promontory in the Early Middle Ages, when Dunollie was the royal centre of the Cenél Loairn within the kingdom of Dál Riata. The Irish annals record that 'Dun Ollaigh' was attacked or burned ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Dunadd Hill Fort

Dunadd is an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute. Originally occupied in the Iron Age, the site later became a seat of the kings of Dál Riata. It is known for its unique stone carvings below the upper enclosure, including a footprint and basin thought to have formed part of Dál Riata's coronation ritual. On the same flat outcrop of rock is an incised boar in Pictish style, and an inscription in ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Argyll and Bute, United Kingdom

Pitsligo Castle Ruins

Pitsligo Castle originated as a 15th-century keep. There is an arched gateway in the west wall of the outer court, with the date 1656 and the arms of the Forbes and Erskines. In the inner court the date is shown as 1663. At the north-east angle of the courtyard there is a tall flanking drum-tower. The main tower had three vaulted stories, but almost all above the lowest has disappeared. There is a stair tower at the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rosehearty, 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

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

Esslemont Castle Ruins

The first mention of Esslemont is as the "manor of Eislemont" in the 14th century. The lands of Esslemont were passed by marriage from the family of Mareschal by marriage of the heiress Janet to Francis le Chen of Straloch in the 14th century. After the castle was burnt in 1493, Henry Cheyne undertook re-building via a king"s licence dated 1500. In 1564 Patrick Cheyne was created baron of Esslemont by Q ...
Founded: 1500 | Location: Ellon, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Naveta d'Es Tudons

The Naveta d"Es Tudons is the most remarkable megalithic chamber tomb in the Balearic island of Menorca. 

In Menorca and Majorca there are several dozen habitational and funerary naveta complexes, some of which similarly comprise two storeys. Navetas are chronologically pre-Talaiotic constructions.

The Naveta d"Es Tudons served as collective ossuary between 1200 and 750 BC. The lower chamber was for stashing the disarticulated bones of the dead after the flesh had been removed while the upper chamber was probably used for the drying of recently placed corpses. Radiocarbon dating of the bones found in the different funerary navetas in Menorca indicate a usage period between about 1130-820 BC, but the navetas like the Naveta d"Es Tudons are probably older.

The shape of the Naveta d"Es Tudons is that of a boat upside down, with the stern as its trapezoidal façade and the bow as its rounded apse. Its groundplan is an elongated semicircle. Externally, the edifice is 14.5 m long by 6.5 m wide and 4.55 m high but it would originally have been 6 m high.

The front, side walls and apse of the edifice consist of successive horizontal corbelled courses of huge rectangular or square limestone blocks dressed with a hammer and fitted together without mortar, with an all-round foundation course of blocks of even greater size laid on edge.