Medieval castles in Scotland

Ballumbie Castle

Ballumbie Castle was built by the Lovell family in the 14th-16th centuries. The castle comprised a rectangular enclosure, approximately 21 metres on a side, with round corner towers, overlooking the Fithie Burn. In the early 17th century it passed to the Maule family, who became Earls of Panmure in 1646. The castle was reported as being ruined by 1682, although the remaining east and south walls were later incorporated i ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dundee, United Kingdom

Inverquharity Castle

Inverquharity Castle is a 15th-century tower house in Angus, Scotland. It lies around 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) north-east of Kirriemuir near the River South Esk. The lands of Inverquharity came to the Ogilvie family around 1420. The castle was first constructed as a rectangular tower in the 1440s, by Alexander Ogilvie, 2nd Lord Inverquharity. In the 16th century a wing was added to form a four-storey L-plan cas ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kirriemuir, United Kingdom

Fordell Castle

Fordell Castle is a restored 16th-century tower house. The earliest charter in the Henderson of Fordell papers dates from 1217. It is not known when the original castle structure was constructed, but the main entrance tower is believed to date from the 1400s. James Henderson, 3rd of Fordell, started to extend the castle in 1566. In 1568 the castle was damaged by fire, then rebuilt. Evidence of the fire can be seen to the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Plean Castle

Plean Tower comprises a small oblong tower house probably dating from the 15th century, and an adjoining 16th-century manor house. Robert Bruce granted the barony of Plean, or Plane, to John d’Erth soon after 1314. The castle was probably built by Lord Somerville, who acquired the lands of Plean in 1449, through marriage. An adjoining manor house was built in about 1528. In 1643 James Somervell, 8th Lord of Plane, sol ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Stirling, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.

The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.