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Castles of Scotland: IV

Updated on August 4, 2011

Castles of Scotland

A castle taken by soldiers disguised as merchants; an Earl who invited graffiti artists to paint the walls of his castle; and a haunted castle with a tower that is believed to date back to the time of William Wallace (Braveheart), these stories and more can be found on this page about the Castles of Scotland.

Our journey began with Castles of Scotland, continued through Castles of Scotland: II, and Castles of Scotland: III, before ending here. Enjoy!

The castles covered in this section are: Edinburgh Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle, Kelburn Castle, Lochranza Castle, Stirling Castle, Threave Castle, and Airth Castle.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is located in Edinburgh, Scotland high on top of a basalt plug of an extinct volcano, called Castle Rock. The early history of Edinburgh Castle is unclear, mainly because of conflicting historical documents.

What is known about the history of Edinburgh Castle is that in 1296, King Edward I of England invaded Scotland, setting off the First War of Scottish Independence. Edinburgh Castle was captured by the English during this invasion. In 1307, King Edward I died, and in 1314, Thomas Randolph launched a successful surprise attack against the English at Edinburgh Castle. He attacked the foreboding castle at night, with just 30 men, after having climbed their way to the top of Castle Rock. Robert the Bruce ordered the defenses of Edinburgh Castle destroyed to dissuade the English from re-taking the castle.

After the death of Robert the Bruce, the Second War of Scottish Independence broke out, and Edinburgh Castle once again fell into English hands. The English made major repairs to Edinburgh Castle, but it was still taken by the Scottish in 1341, after an assault by William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. Because of the location of Edinburgh Castle, strategy and trickery played an important part in the taking of the castle, and the plan hatched by William Douglas was brilliant. Douglas and his party disguised themselves as merchants, and brought goods to the castle. As soon as they got inside the castle gate, they dropped the goods, keeping the gate from closing, and a hidden force of men rushed inside and retook the castle.

Edinburgh Castle never saw much rest in its turbulent history. It has changed hands numerous times, been bombarded and repaired, further fortified, extended, used as a military garrison, hospital, royal residence, and prison. In 1745, Edinburgh Castle saw its last battle, with the unsuccessful attack by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Edinburgh Castle still functions as the military headquarters for the British Army. The castle is a popular tourist attraction and houses two museums and the Honours of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle is also host to many military functions, including the famous Military Tattoo. For visitor's information visit the Edinburgh Castle official website.

Large photo of the castle above courtesy of G.naharro .

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle
Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle is located in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It sits atop a conglomerate rock at an entrance to Loch Etive.

Dunstaffnage Castle is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland, dating back to the 13th century. Dunstaffnage Castle was built by the MacDougall Lords of Lorn.

Dunstaffnage Castle was the seat of the Clan MacDougall, who supported Balliol during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Sometime around 1308-1309, Robert the Bruce defeated the Clan MacDougall and took the castle.

In 1431, James I seized Dunstaffnage Castle, and in 1463, Alan MacDougalls retook the castle when their supporters stabbed the current resident on the way to his wedding. In 1490, the MacDougalls were ousted by James III, who granted Dunstaffnage to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll in 1470. The Clan Campbell has held Dunstaffnage Castle to this day.

In 1644, Dunstaffnage Castle was burned by royalist troops, and was occupied by government troops several times in the 16th century.

In 1725, the Campbells began restoring and adding onto the castle, only to have a fire destroy Dunstaffnage Castle in 1810.

In 1903, the Duke of Argyll, owner of Dunstaffnage Castle began restoring the castle, only to have the courts rule that Angus Campbell, the 20th hereditary Captain, had right of residence regardless of the Duke of Argyll's ownership. In 1958, the 21st Captain and the Duke agreed to hand the castle over to Historic Scotland. For visitor's information check out Historic Scotland/ Dunstaffnage Castle.

Large photo above courtesy of Vtveen.

Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Castle
Kelburn Castle

Kelburn Castle is located near Fairlie, North Ayrshire, Scotland. It is the seat of the Earl of Glasgow. The keep in the center of the castle dates back to the 13th century, the castle was remodeled in the 16th century, and extended in the 1700's. Kelburn Castle has always been home to the Boyle family (formerly de Boyvilles), and is one of the oldest castles that has been home to the same family throughout it's existence.

The keep is believed to have been built before 1200, and in 1581, the castle was built up around the keep by the Laird, David Boyle. This keep was strongly built with an emphasis on defense, which may explain how it lasted throughout the centuries.

In 1700, David Boyle, the Earl of Glasgow, built a large mansion house that was joined to the existing castle. The grand dining room is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful in all of Scotland. The sixth Earl of Glasgow built a magnificent victorian wing which enclosed one of the towers.

In 2007, the present owner, the tenth Earl of Glasgow, invited graffiti artists to paint the walls of Kelburn Castle after hearing that the concrete facing will soon need to be replaced. If you'd like to visit Kelburn Castle, find your information here: Kelburn Caslte.

Large photo above courtesy of Supergolden via Wikipedia, and protected by the Creative Commons license.

Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle
Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle is located on a promontory on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Lochranza Castle was originally built in the 13th century and was inhabited by the MacSweens, however, the castle was rebuilt in the 1500's, and that is what we see today.

Lochranza Castle has often been used at the whim of royalty throughout its history. In 1262, Lochranza Castle was granted to Walter Stewart, the Earl of Menteith, by King Alexander III. It is believed that Robert the Bruce landed at Lochranza Castle after leaving Ireland in 1306. In 1371, the castle became the property of Richard II, the grandson of Robert the Bruce. In the 1490's, James IV used Lochranza Castle in a campaign against the Clan MacDonald, and in 1614, the castle was occupied by James VI. In 1705, the Duchess of Hamilton purchased Lochranza Castle, and sometime after, the castle fell into disrepair and was abandoned.

The village of Lochranza is said to receive the least amount of sunlight in the United Kingdom because of its position in Scotland. The land was also heralded in the poem Lord of the Isles by Sir Walter Scott:

On fair Lochranza streamed the early day,

Thin wreaths of cottage smoke are upward curl'd

From the lone hamlet, which her inland bay

From the lone hamlet, which her inland bay

And circling mountains sever from world

Lochranza Castle is now in the capable hands of Historic Scotland.

Large photo above courtesy of Bruce89 via Wikipedia, and is protected by the Creative Commons license.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is located in Stirling, Scotland, sits atop Castle Hill and is a mix of buildings dating from the 18th century all the way back to the 14th century.

Although Stirling Castle is strategically placed and quite foreboding, there have been quite a few sieges against the castle, resulting in the castle changing hands back and forth between the English and Scottish. In 1299, Stirling Castle was attacked by the Scots, and in 1304, by the English under the rule of King Edward, who fought for control of Scotland for 6 years, with Stirling Castle holding out longer than any castle in Scotland. Between 1337 and 1746, Stirling Castle faced 6 more sieges, changing hands several more times, with the final siege led by Charles Edward Stuart during the Jacobite uprising.

Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling Castle, including Mary, Queen of Scots. Stirling Castle is also the headquarters of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, is a scheduled Ancient Monument and is maintained by Historic Scotland.

Large photo of the castle above courtesy of Finlay McWalter.

Threave Castle

Threave Castle
Threave Castle

Threave Castle is located on an island in the River Dee in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Threave Castle was built in 1369 by Archibald Douglas, who also died there. The castle was home to the Earls of Douglas, known as the Black Douglases, until 1455.

Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, the Regent to King James II, died in 1439, and his 16 year old son was murdered at Edinburgh Castle a year later, causing Threave Castle to become the property of his sister, Margaret, and potentially, the property of another family when she married.

The 8th Earl of Douglas, William Douglas, married Margaret, his cousin, to keep Threave Castle in the family. The powerful Black Earls of Douglas were considered a threat to the Crown, and realizing this, William Douglas added further fortifications to Threave Castle, and a defensive wall along the bank of the river. In 1452, William Douglas murdered Patrick Maclellan at Threave Castle, against the will of King James II. A year later, it was payback time, and King James II murdered William Douglas at Stirling Castle.

The 9th Earl of Douglas, William's brother, continued adding onto Threave Castle, receiving money from King Henry VI. James Douglas built a curtain wall, gatehouse, rampart, and 3 corner towers. In 1455, Threave Castle was attacked, but the added defenses proved themselves, and after two months, the garrison was bribed into giving up the castle, and it became property of the Crown.

In 1513, the 4th Lord of Maxwell was appointed keeper of Threave Castle, but in 1542, the English took Threave Castle only for it to retrieved in 1545 by the Earl of Arran.

The Bishop's war began in 1638, and the Maxwell family supported King Charles I of England, but they lost Threave Castle, and it was partially dismantled.

After seeing so much turbulence, Threave Castle was peacefully handed over to Historic Scotland in 1913, by Edward Gordan, and it is now a scheduled Ancient Monument.

Large photo above courtesy of Dragon Tomato.

Airth Castle

Airth Castle
Airth Castle

Airth Castle is located near Stirling, in central Scotland. The castle was built by the Erth family in the 14th century. Sometime near 1440, Edward Bruce married Agnes Airth (formerly Erth), at which time Airth Castle became property of the Bruce family. Airth Castle then passed down to Robert Bruce, who joined the rebels, causing James II to burn down Airth Castle in 1488. A year later, Robert Bruce received compensation and began rebuilding Airth Castle.

The east wing of the castle is the oldest, and the ancient square tower is believed to date back to the time of William Wallace, and is called the Wallace Tower.

Airth Castle was home to several different families until 1971, when it was bought by the Forrester family.

There are ruins of the Airth Church near the castle, and many who have ties to Airth Castle are buried there. There have been reports of paranormal occurrences ot Airth Castle by the castle staff and guests. Airth Castle is now a luxurious Resort Hotel and Spa.

Large photo above courtesy of Super Golden, via Wikipedia, and protected under the creative commons license.

Hey, Crack a Book, Why Don't Ya!

The Castles of Scotland
The Castles of Scotland

Add a bit of haunting mystery to your coffee table with this wonderful book of Scottish Castles. Besides, what good is a coffee table if it isn't hauntingly mysterious?


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    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Holy Smokes!!! Will ya get a load of that Kilburn Castle? So artistic ... I love it!

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens :) The castles are absolutely gorgeous!!!

    • bhavesh lm profile image

      bhavesh lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful Scotland! This brings back memories. We visited both Edinburgh and Stirling but were not able to go inside the Sterling Castle as we got there after it was closed. I was amused by the statue of William Wallace actually mentioning the movie Braveheart, who is said to have been beheaded there.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Your castles series is wonderful. I have not been to as many of these as I'd like to, but your lens is giving me the motivation to go explore these wonders on my doorstep.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Another great lens on these castles! I used to live in Edinburgh and have visited Edinburgh Castle many a time, great place. Another castle I love is Dunnottar Castle - been there a few times with my family. If you feel like adding any more, try that one!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great lens. Lensrolling to Stornoway Scotland