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Castles of Scotland: II

Updated on January 31, 2013

Scottish Castles and their history

A castle by haunted by the Green Lady; a castle that was dismantled and used to build the surrounding houses; and a castle which housed only 60 men who lasted for weeks against the entire British Army before finally surrendering. These stories and more can be found here. Come along as we continue our journey throughout Scotland seeking out the history of more of it's beautiful and ancient castles. This journey began with Castles of Scotland, and continues with Castles of Scotland: III, and ending with Castles of Scotland: IV.

Castles covered on this page are: Tulloch Castle, Urquhart Castle, Caerlaverock Castle, Kisimul Castle, Glamis Castle, Culzean Castle, and Corgarff Castle.

Tulloch Castle

Tulloch Castle
Tulloch Castle

Tulloch Castle is located on the edge of the town of Dingwall in the county of Ross and Cromarty, (or Ross-shire). Tulloch Castle was believed to have been built by the Norsemen, and dates as far back as the 12th century, and is now a luxury hotel.

Tulloch Castle was home to the Clan Bayne as far back as the 16th century, and was sold to the Clan Davidson in the 18th century. It was eventually passed down to the daughter of the last direct male descendant of the Davidson family, who then passed it down to her son, Colonel Angus Vickers, of the Vickers aircraft company.

Tulloch Castle was used as a temporary hospital in 1940, and was bought by the local education authority in 1957 where it was used as a hostel until 1976. It was then purchased by the MacAulays who eventually sold Tulloch Castle to serve as a hotel.

Some say Tulloch Castle is haunted by one of the daughters of Duncan Davidson. Called the Green Lady, this particular daughter walked in on her father in a rather compromising position with a woman. The young daughter turned and ran towards the staircase, but she fell down the stairs and died. Duncan Davidson was a notorious womanizer, having 5 wives and 18 legitimate children, with many more illegitimate children.

On May 28,2008 The Sun News reported that Connor Bond, a 14 year old armed with a digital camera, took a photo of a ghostly figure with it's hand grasping the stair railing in Tulloch Castle.

One interesting fact about Tulloch Castle is that an underground tunnel (now partially collapsed) runs from the basement, under the town of Dingwall, to the site of Dingwall Castle.

Large photo courtesy of Conner395. Smaller photo upper right courtesy of David Maclennan.

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle sits beside Loch Ness close to the village of Drumnadrochit in the Highlands of Scotland. Although Urquhart Castle is a ruin, it was one of the largest strongholds in medieval Scotland. It possibly dates back to the latter 6th century where it may have been visited by St. Columba. The exact date of the building of the castle is unknown, but records show a castle in existence as far back as the 1200's, and in 1296, the castle was captured by Edward I of England. Urquhart Castle changed hands many times in its ancient history, until 1692, when the castle was destroyed to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Jacobites, and being used as a stronghold. It has been a ruin ever since.

After Urquhart Castle was completely abandoned, the people of the glen began dismantling what stones they could, and used them to build their homes. Many of these homes are still standing, and one can say that the castle has served it's has provided safety, as well as shelter to its people, and continues to do so to this day.

If you've seen any of the televised documentaries on the Loch Ness Monster, you may have seen the large Urquhart Castle ruins in the background. It is in this area that many people claim to have seen the illusive monster of the lake.

Urquhart Castle now belongs to the National Trust of Scotland, and is an extremely popular tourist attraction. It has actually become one Historic Scotland's busiest sites, and has become a popular place for weddings and other ceremonies.

The large photo above is courtesy of Shadowgate. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Wknight94.

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is a moated castle in the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve area at the Solway Firth in Dumfriesshire. Caerlaverock Castle history can be traced as far back as the 1200's and belonged to the Maxwell family (originally Maccuswell), with John de Maccuswell being the first Lord Maxwell of Caerlaverock.

Caerlaverock Castle sits close to the border between Scotland and England, resulting in several attacks by the English. The Siege of Caerlaverock by Edward I of England is a prime example. Having a grand army with some of England's best fighting forces, including the Knights of Bretagne and Lorraine, Edward I attacked Caerlaverock Castle. The valiant Maxwells made a brave stand against the English forces, several times causing the English to retreat and gather themselves. While the Maxwells fought gallantly, they could not last against the sheer number of the English, and were reluctantly forced to surrender. When the leaders of the English army made way into Caerlaverock Castle, they were astonished to find that only 60 men had defied the whole English army.

Eventually, Caerlaverock Castle was restored to the Maxwell family, who at the time were in the favor of the King of England, and were given an allowance from Edward I to further secure the castle.

When the Maxwell family switched loyalties to Robert Bruce, the English once again lay siege to Caerlaverock Castle. This time however, they were not successful, possibly because of the improvements funded by Edward I. The Maxwell family were afraid Caerlaverock may once again fall into the hands of the English and be used as a formidable stronghold, so they partially dismantled the castle, and were rewarded by Robert Bruce for their sacrifice.

Caerlaverock Castle was the subject of a siege in 1640 by a Protestant force, who were at odds with the Catholic Maxwell family. The castle was further damaged in the siege, and was abandoned by the Maxwells.

The Historic Scotland holds re-enactments of the heroic stand a handful of Maxwells took against the English army in the first Siege of Caerlaverock.

Large photo of Caerlaverock Castle courtesy of David A G Wilson.Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Paul Buckingham and Paul Jenkins

A special thanks to David Wilson at Dave Wilson Photography for his kindness and creativity.

Kisimul Castle

Kisimul Castle
Kisimul Castle

Kisimul (also Kiessimul, Chiosmuil, or Chisimul) Castle is located in Castlebay on Barra, an island of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

When Kisimul Castle was originally built is unknown, and some say it dates as far back as the 11th century. What is known about Kisimul Castle is that in 1427, Alexander, Lord of Isles, granted Barra to Gilleonan MacNeil. Whether Gilleonan McNeil built Kisimul Castle or improved what was there already is unknown, however, from that date on, the castle was passed down through the MacNeil family for generations until 1838, when a bankrupt Roderick MacNeil was forced to sell Kisimul Castle to Colonel Gordon of Cluny for £38,050.

The Clan MacNeil has been forced to defend Kisimul Castle several times throughout its history, and they were always successful, but not without damage to the castle.

After purchasing Kisimul Castle, Colonel Gordon cleared much of the land, forcing the locals to move from the land they had lived on for generations. Many of the people of Barra left to find a better life in America, and in 1937 the American architect Robert MacNeil, who had been recognised as the 45th Clan Chief of the MacNeils, bought Kisimul Castle and returned it to the family who had lived within its walls for so long. Robert McNeil restored the dilapidated Kisimul Castle to it's former glory, adding a few modern conveniences.

In the year 2000, the 46th Clan Chief of the MacNeils, leased Kisimul Castle to Historic Scotland for 1,000 years to ensure conservation of the castle. Kisimul Castle was leased for an annual payment of £1 and a bottle of whiskey.

Large photo of Kisimul Castle courtesy of Wynwhite. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Paul Store, garlicpickle, and di-foatie.

Ravensburger Tranquil Castle - 1000 Piece Puzzle
Ravensburger Tranquil Castle - 1000 Piece Puzzle

Who wouldn't like to own a castle? I have quite a few...of course, they are cardboard pieces in a box, but that's as close as I can get for now. You can get your own castle in a box too! Just look at this beautiful one.

disclaimer: Not a real castle, just a picture of one glued to cardboard. You cannot live in it for real, but you might be able to sit on it.


Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle
Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is located near the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland, and was the home of the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Glamis Castle is rooted in history and legend, and one legend is the Monster of Glamis. According to the legend, a grossly deformed child was born to the family. The family kept this child locked in a room of suites its entire life. When the child died, the family had the rooms walled up, never to be re-opened. Another version of the story is that a vampire is born to the family in every generation, and this creature is walled up in the secret rooms.

This story may have gotten its roots in the story of the Ogilvie and Lindsay Families, who both took refuge in the castle during a clan war. The Earl did not want to offend either family and agreed to give both refuge, with the one not knowing about the other. To keep them from seeing each other, he locked the families into two separate areas of the castle. The story goes that he never unlocked the suites of the Ogilvie family when the war was over, thinking the family had already left the castle. Instead, the family stayed locked inside Glamis Castle and starved to death.

Another legend is that the 15th Lord of Glamis, called Earl Beardie, was a guest at the Glamis Castle and demanded a game of cards, even though it was the Sabbath, but could find no one willing to play. A stranger soon visited the castle, and the man asked if Earl Beardie would still like to play cards. Earl Beardie and the stranger locked themselves in a room and began playing. The servants became concerned when they heard shouting and cursing coming from they room and looked through the key-hole only to see a bright flash. Upon entering the room, they found it empty. There are reports today of shouting coming from the empty room, and they say it's Earl Beardie still playing cards with the devil.

A variation on the above legend is that Earl Beardie and Lord Crawford were playing cards into the night, and were warned by a servant the Sabbath was approaching. They continued playing, swearing they would finish their game, even until Doomsday. At midnight, they were joined by a third man, the devil, and they can be heard playing to this day.

There is a chapel inside Glamis Castle and one seat is left empty at all times for the Grey Lady, who is said to haunt Glamis Castle. Some believe it is Janet Douglas, once a lady of Glamis Castle who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake at Edinburgh Castle.

There have been numerous reports of paranormal occurrences and sightings of ghostly apparitions in Glamis Castle, so much so that some have dubbed it as the most haunted Castle in Scotland.

Today, Glamis Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and is open to the public. Along with Munchalls Castle and Craigievar Castle, Glamis Castle boasts one of the most detailed plasterwork ceilings in Scotland.

Large photo of Glamis Castle courtesy of Yewenyi. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Eric Berlemont and Ian Robinson

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle is located in South Ayershire near Maybole, overlooking the Firth of Clyde, and is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, however, the castle was the property of the Clan Kennedy for more than 800 years. The exact date Culzean Castle was built is unknown, but the Culzean Castle we see today was re-built between the years of 1777 and 1792 by the order of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassilis. Designed by Robert Adams, many experts and skilled craftsmen were called upon to build the castle, and one can see they did so beautifully.

Culzean Castle has underground tunnels that some believe were used for smuggling. In 2004, a team went to the castle to examine the caves with the hopes of either confirming or debunking the claim that they were used for smuggling in the past. Hours after exploring the caves, they came upon human remains. These remains were studied, and were found in three different areas of the caves. Pathology reports found that they were from at least three different bodies, and were probably taken from their individual places of burial. It is believed that the Culzean caves served as a burial place in ancient times. In 2005, archeologists found a 2000 year old wall made of granite boulders and sandstone slabs. They have also found charred bones, animal teeth, flint, stone tools, and charcoal.

Culzean Castle houses an apartment that was kept specifically for Dwight Eisenhower after WWII. It also boasts a beautiful walled garden and a swan pond, the latter of which is a favorite of avid bird-watchers. As it should be with all grand castles, Culzean Castle is also said to be haunted, and has had a number of paranormal sightings and investigations.

Large photo of Culzean Castle courtesy of Gordontour. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of Satori Son, Gernot Keller, and Mary and Angus Hogg.

Corgarff Castle

Corgarff Castle
Corgarff Castle

Corgarff Castle is located in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Corgarff Castle sits in a strategic position in Scotland, and thus, has played a prominent part in the history of the area. Corgarff Castle is believed to have been built around 1550 by John Forbes of Towie.

The Clan Forbes were supporters of the cause of James VI, and the Clan Gordon from Auchindoun were supporters of Mary Queen of Scots. This led to feuding between the two clans. In November 1571 Adam Gordon of Auchindoun tried to capture Corgarff Castle while the men were away. In defense of Corgarff Castle, Margaret Forbes, the wife of John Forbes, shot one of Gordon's men in the knee. To avenge the injury, Adam Gordon took drastic measures and burned Corgarff Castle, killing everyone inside except for Margaret Forbes, who escaped to Ireland and gave birth to a son there.

After being rebuilt, Corgarff Castle was a haven to bandits before coming under the ownership of the 18th Earl of Mar. Because of it's position, Corgarff Castle was used numerous times in it's history by different military factions, falling into the hands of one side, then another, and in the process was burned down twice more in the uprisings.

In the early 1700's the government returned Corgarff Castle to the Forbes family, but there were still more uprisings in the area, and the castle was used several times more for military purposes. The unique star-shaped wall was a result of the castle becoming a military barracks.

In 1947, The Estate of Corgarff Castle was bought by Sir Edmund and Lady Stockdale. The castle which was so pivotal in the area's history stood a dilapidated ruin. In 1961, the Stockdale family turned Corgarff Castle over to Historic Scotland, who, with the help of the Stockdales, completely restored this beautiful lonely castle into the valley jewel that stands today.

Large photo above courtesy of Happywanderer1. Smaller hyperlinked photos courtesy of dnairn and family-ross.

Time to Vote!

Which is your favorite castle?

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Comments are greatly appreciated!

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    • Fran Tollett profile image

      Fran Tollett 

      5 years ago

      I would LOVE to visit all these! Thanks for a very interesting lens :-)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have Bowes-Lyons blood, so my choice is Glamis Castle. Enjoyed this lens!

    • oxfordian profile image


      6 years ago

      I love this series!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image


      6 years ago

      Another GREAT Lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i am a MacNeil in canada i would love to some day visit kisimul castle. i love the stories

    • JanTUB profile image

      Jan T Urquhart Baillie 

      8 years ago from Australia

      I was married to an Urquhart, and have heard tales of Scotland much of my life. I'd love to see Urquhart Castle in the flesh.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @jptanabe: Hi jptanabe! I've been fascinated by castles for such a long time and I finally get to travel to Great Britain and Ireland in June! :) I'm from Canada and it disgusts and saddens me that they 'restored' Urquhart Castle and made it a tourist attraction with a giant parking area and gift shop! It's like ruining history. I just had to share my thoughts. Brightest blessings to you and yours!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great stuff! I used to visit Glamis Castle as a child - those secret rooms and ghost stories are fascinating! And I remember meeting highland cattle on the grounds. Also been by Urquhart Castle - the locals were horrified at all the restoration to make it a fancy tourist attraction, giant parking area and gift shop! But they also enjoy making fun of the visitors (like me and my family) who want to see Nessie.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Another great one. Lensrolling to Stornoway Scotland

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 

      9 years ago from Detroit

      Love your work, so I gave you the works! Welcome to the history group.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      These majestic castles are endlessly fascinating. 5*. Thanks.

    • anthropos lm profile image

      Lamar Ross 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Culzean Castle was the castle from which my Kennedy ancestors came. Glad to see you included it.


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