Medieval castles in Scotland

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

Affleck Castle

Affleck Castle, also known as Auchenleck Castle, was built on the lands of the Auchenlecks in the 15th century. In the early 18th century it belonged to a family of Reids, who forfeited the castle in 1746 because of their activities as Jacobites. It has not been occupied since 1760, when a new mansion was built. Affleck Castle is a well-preserved free-standing tower of four storeys and a parapeted garret. It is 18 m tal ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dundee, United Kingdom

Creich Castle

Creich Castle is a ruined tower house. There is a mention of a castle on the property in the 13th century, but it is uncertain what relationship that has to the existing structures. There is documentary evidence of a tower in 1553, but the existing structure either postdates that or has been heavily remodeled, judging by its architectural style. The first surviving records that mention Craich show that it was held by the ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Cupar, 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

Finavon Castle

Finavon estate was the property of the Lindsay Earls of Crawford from 1375, who built the now-ruined castle. David Lindsay, 10th Earl of Crawford, married Margaret, the daughter of Cardinal David Beaton, at Finavon in 1546. Extravagance ruined the Crawford fortunes, and in 1625 the barony of Finavon was disposed of by a forced sale to Alexander Lindsay, 2nd Lord Spynie. It passed through the Carnegie family, the Gordo ...
Founded: 1375 | Location: Finavon, United Kingdom

Guthrie Castle

Guthrie Castle dates back to the 15th century, although much of the present building is of 19th-century origin. It is now a private house. Guthrie Castle comprises a tower house, originally built by Sir David Guthrie (1435–1500), Treasurer and Lord Justice-General of Scotland, in 1468. The Guthrie family later built a house beside the tower. In 1848, the two were linked by a baronial style expansion, to designs by Davi ...
Founded: 1468 | Location: Forfar, 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

Castle Grant

Castle Grant was the former seat of the Clan Grant chiefs of Strathspey in Highlands. The castle is a Z-plan tower house that dates from the fifteenth century. The lands had been held by the Clan Comyn but passed to the Grants in the fifteenth century and it became their main stronghold. Although the Grants were Protestants they joined James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose during the Scottish Civil War in the 1640s. The ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Cairnbulg Castle

Cairnbulg Castle is a z-plan castle situated in Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire. Originally known as Philorth Castle, it was built in the early 14th century, destroyed in the winter of 1308–1309 in the Wars of Independence, and re-built by the Fraser family in 1380. Subsequently, a courtyard and outbuildings were added to the main tower. It is now open to the public by appointment only. Flora Fraser, 21st Lady Saltoun ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Cairnbulg, 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

Lauriston Castle

Once a royal fortress, Lauriston Castle can claim to be one of the oldest privately owned and inhabited castles in the region. By tradition, it was the stronghold of Giric, or Gregory the Great, one of the last of the Pictish kings (AD 878–889). The site of his church of Ecclesgreig is nearby and he gave his Latin name, Ciricius, to St. Cyrus. Lauriston’s first charter is dated 1243 and it soon developed into a c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: St Cyrus, 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

Ardgowan Castle

Ardgowan Castle is located in the grounds of Ardgowan House near Inverkip. In 1306, Inverkip was besieged by supporters of Robert Bruce, led by Robert Boyd of Cunningham. In 1403, King Robert III granted the lands of Ardgowan to his natural son, Sir John Stewart. The castle is dated to the late 15th century. In 1667 Archibald Stewart was created a baronet. The 3rd baronet married, in 1730, Helen Houston, heiress ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Inverkip, United Kingdom

Auchterhouse Castle

Auchterhouse Castle is a 13th century castle located northwest of Dundee, Angus. The original castle was enclosed with walls, towers, and contained a keep. The castle may have been in ownership of the Ramsay family, who were hereditary Sheriffs of Angus. Sir William Wallace is alleged to have stayed at the castle and one its towers was named in his honour. King Edward I of England spent the night of the 20 July 1303 at th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dundee, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.