Medieval castles in Scotland

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

Auchindoun Castle

While there is evidence of prehistoric or Pictish earthworks in the grounds of the Auchindoun Castle, the remains most visible today are of the castle constructed in the mid-15th century. This building is sometimes said to be the work of Robert Cochrane, a favourite of James III. It passed to the Clan Ogilvy in 1489 and from them to the Clan Gordon in 1535. The castle was damaged by the Clan MacKintosh in 1592 in retal ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dufftown, United Kingdom

Borve Castle Ruins

Borve Castle, also known as Castle Wearie, is a ruined 14th century tower house. MacGibbon and Ross attributed the building of the tower to Amie mac Ruari, wife of John of Islay, and dated it to between 1344 and 1363. It was occupied by the Macdonalds of Benbecula until the early 17th century. The ruined tower measures 18 metres by 11 metres, and 9 metres high. The walls are up to 2.7 metres thick. The entrance, in the s ...
Founded: 1344-1363 | Location: Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom

Ardross Castle

The ruins of Ardross Castle, dating back to at least the 15th century, occupy a fine defensive coastal position standing high on sandstone cliffs overlooking a sandy beach below. In 1068 a Northumbrian knight named Merleswain came to Scotland, and was granted lands in Fife. The first mention of Ardross seems to occur in the mid-12th century. It is believed that a castle was first built on this spot by Sir William Dishin ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fife, United Kingdom

Wemyss Castle

Wemyss Castle is situated on the sea cliffs between the villages of East Wemyss and West Wemyss. Accounts date the construction of the castle to 1421 when Sir John Wemyss decided to build a fortified castle to replace one destroyed by the Duke of Rothesay at Kilconquhar in 1402. The castle is thus the ancient seat of the Earls of Wemyss and their families. Historically, the castle is perhaps best known as the location whe ...
Founded: c. 1421 | Location: East Wemyss, United Kingdom

Balgonie Castle

Balgonie Castle keep dates from the 14th century, and the remaining structures were added piecemeal until the 18th century. The keep has been recently restored, although other parts of the castle are roofless ruins. Balgonie, excepting the tower which is used for residential purposes, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The lands of Balgonie were held by the Sibbalds from at least 1246. Probably in the 1360s, the Sibbalds b ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Glenrothes, United Kingdom

Ballinbreich Castle

Ballinbreich Castle is a ruined tower house castle in Fife. The castle was built in the 14th century by Clan Leslie, and subsequently rebuilt several times. There may have been an outer curtain-wall though this no longer survives. Much of the present structure is of 16th-century date. It is a three-storey L-plan castle and overlooks the Firth of Tay. Early maps of the castle by Timothy Pont and John Adair at the National ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Cupar, United Kingdom

Fincharn Castle

Fincharn Castle was built in 1240 by the Lord of Glassary, but the present ruin must represent a later castle. It is said to have belonged to the MacMartins or to the MacIains.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Argyll and Bute, 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

Dundas Castle

Dundas Castle is a 15th-century castle, with substantial 19th-century additions by William Burn, in the Dalmeny parish of West Lothian. The home of the Dundas family since the Middle Ages, it was sold in the late 19th century and is currently the residence of politician and businessman Sir Jack Stewart-Clark. In the 11th century, the lands of Dundas, along with other land in Lothian, were granted by King Malcolm Canmore ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dalmeny, United Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.