Brodick Castle stands on a slope above the north side of Brodick Bay and under the shadow of Goatfell, which rises behind it. It can best be described as a strategically important castle developed over four centuries between the 1200s and the 1600s, with an 1800s stately home wrapped around it. The location was probably first used as a defensive site by the Vikings until they were driven from Arran, and the rest of the western seaboard of Scotland, following the Battle of Largs in 1263. The original castle on the site was built in the years that followed for the Stewarts of Menteith. As originally constructed, the castle was protected by a steep slope descending on its seaward side, and a water filled ditch on its landward side. The castle itself comprised a tower which became the east end of the later building, with a wall of enclosure to its west containing a series of domestic buildings including a kitchen, stables and a chapel.

During the Wars of Independence, Brodick Castle was held by the English until retaken by the Scots in 1307. Its subsequent history was equally turbulent. English ships damaged the castle in 1406, and further damage was caused in an attack by John MacDonald II, Lord of the Isles in 1455. Meanwhile, ownership of the castle passed through various hands before it came into the possession of the Hamilton family, later the Marquesses and Dukes of Hamilton, in 1503.

The castle was rebuilt by the Hamiltons in 1510, but suffered further damage in 1528 during clan battles between Campbells and MacLeans, and again in 1544 at the hands of Henry VIII's forces. Further rebuilding and expansion took place in the 1550s, but its troubled history was not yet complete. In 1639 the castle was captured by the Campbells, then recaptured by the Hamiltons.

In 1652 Brodick Castle surrendered to the English Parliamentary troops of Oliver Cromwell, and subsequently spent a number of years being used as a barracks by them. During this period the battery you can still see today was built to the east of the main building, and the existing castle was extended by two bays to the west, nearly doubling its size.

Today it takes a real act of imagination to see the castle as it must have been during these centuries of conflict, occupation and reoccupation. Only occasional glimpses remain. In 1977, restoration work uncovered a staircase leading to a room that had lain hidden and long forgotten, entirely contained within the thickness of the castle walls. This is now fitted out as the castle dungeon.

What today's visitor finds at Brodick Castle is largely the result of a large scale expansion of the earlier castle undertaken in the years after 1844. The Hamilton family commissioned the Edinburgh architect James Gillespie Graham to nearly double the size of the main block of the existing castle by extending it south westwards. They then concluded their extension with the massive south west tower that is such a characteristic feature of today's Brodick Castle.

Parts of the castle gardens date back to at least 1710, according to a date in the enclosing wall. Further work was undertaken from 1814, but the main development of the gardens as they are today date back to the elevation of the castle to a stately home in 1844. The gardens were subsequently a passion of the Hamiltons and especially of the Duchess of Montrose in the years from 1895. Like the Castle, its gardens offer a glimpse into another world and another time.

Overall, Brodick Castle offers visitors a remarkably complete example of a stately home to enjoy, plus some excellent gardens and a country park. It is no surprise to find it is one of the major visitor attractions on the Isle of Arran.

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Founded: 1510
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Peter Thomas Diehl (21 months ago)
Had a wonderful time here. The castle and its history were highly interesting, and there are beautiful walks around the grounds and gardens.
Nicola Hay (21 months ago)
A great place to bring the kids. The adventure playground is brilliant
Douglas Munro (2 years ago)
Beautiful walk this morning before heading back to the city. Really well maintained and beautiful grounds. The dog loved it.
Jeremy_will Smith (2 years ago)
This is really interesting castle to visit. The gardens are beautiful and so well maintained. A visit to the Red Squirrel hide us a must; a chance to see these very rare, lovely and lively little animals close up The children's playground area looks excellent. The Castle Guide was most informative and brought the castle to life with his narrative of the castle's history. Thank you for our busy
Amanda Wainwright (2 years ago)
A great day out for local history lovers. Brodick Castles stands on beautiful grounds with amazing views our over Brodick Bay. You can tour the house (castle). It is undergoing renovation at the moment but there are still tours with a guide. There is a fantastic adventure play area for children of all ages from climbing frames to zip wires on the grounds. There are stunning, well maintained gardens to meander around too. Sensible footwear is a must and there are some steep steps around the grounds leading to the lower gardens.
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