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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User Reviews

Richard Gardner (11 months ago)
A fascinating castle and gardens. The castle is currently undoing external conservation work, but this shouldn't last much longer. Inside, there are excellent exhibits for all ages and interests. Children will love it here too. The gardens are amazing, and in one corner, in a quiet shaded section is a haven for red squirrels. There were three feeding when we visited.
Mika (11 months ago)
It's a shame the castle is covered in scaffolding. I did appreciate the inside of the castle and loved the staff being able to tell us more about the rooms. The gardens are an absolute must for anyone visiting the Isle of Arran!
William Duncan (11 months ago)
On a nice hot summer day walk around the huge gardens find the wee treats around on south facing slope the out side of the castle is under refurbishment but you can still have a tour inside .
Faisal Madanat (12 months ago)
Brodick Castle is a beautiful castle located on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. The castle was built in the 13th century and has been a well-known landmark of the island ever since. It has been owned by various royal families, including the Stewarts and the Hamiltons. There are plenty of things to do in Brodick Castle. You can take a tour of the castle and learn about its rich history, explore the stunning gardens that surround it, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views of the countryside. The castle also serves as a venue for various events throughout the year, such as concerts and weddings. One of the major attractions of Brodick Castle is the National Trust for Scotland. The Trust offers several educational programs for children and adults alike. Visitors can learn about the wildlife, flora, and fauna of Scotland through the various guided tours, workshops, and activities. You need to have a ticket to enter, the tickets are collected from the shop near the castle. For students, the ticket is for £10. It is very easy to reach there since there are many labels and signs for directions. You can go by car or walk. The castle is under the refurbishment process, but you can still visit it from inside. Highly recommended.
Mardee Sherman (13 months ago)
I did not go inside to see the castle the day I went, but I did pay the admission to visit the gardens, which were worth it. They have many lovely walks all around the property, heading all the way down to the water and through the woods, and you can see a lot of wildlife in the area. Check out the squirrel hide, where you can catch a glimpse of red squirrels. And afterwards, make sure and stop at the café near the car park. They had some excellent selections.
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