Medieval castles in Scotland

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

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 ...
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

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

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

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

Dunglass Castle

Dunglass Castle, situated in West Dunbartonshire, is a ruinous castle, originally constructed during 1400–1542. A large section of high wall remains, to approximately 7–8 metres high, with a mixture of original and newer construction. A small conical dovecot also exists on the south wall but it is now completely ruined. The castle and courtyard stone was taken in 1735 to use in repair of the quay following an or ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Bowling, United Kingdom

Balquhain Castle

Balquhain Castle is a ruined tower house in Aberdeenshire. It was built in the 14th century and held by Leslie family from 1340. On 5 July 1441 John Leslie of Balquhain made an indenture with four masons, David Hardgat, David Dun, Robert Masoun and Gilbert Masoun that they would complete his building work. The castle was sacked during a feud with the Forbes family in 1526. The castle was rebuilt in 1530. Mary Que ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Pitcaple, 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

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

Dounreay Castle Ruins

Dounreay Castle dates from the late 16th century, and is one of the few remaining examples of a Scottish Laird’s castle from that period. William Sinclair of Dunbeath, descended from a younger brother of John Sinclair, third Earl of Caithness, built the castle in the 1560s. It was damaged in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army during their Scottish campaign. Now entirely ruined, the castle was still inhab ...
Founded: 16th century | 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

Forse Castle Ruins

Forse Castle ruins dates from c. 1200 in the hamlet of Forse. The castle stands on a peninsula about 50 metres above sea level. It is surrounded on all sides by steep rocks and is cut off from the mainland by a natural ditch at the neck of the peninsula. Forse Castle was the stronghold of the Sutherland of Forse family, a cadet branch of the Clan Sutherland. They lived in it until around 1600.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

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Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.