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Scotlands Castles

How many Castles are their in Scotland?

Scotland has had over 2,000 Castles in its long history, many of which still stand to this today.

Scotland had many internal and external conflicts throughout its history and sadly many of the Castles have been sieged, fallen or left derelict due to these conflicts.

Many of Scotland’s Castles are only known through historical records due to the conflicts of the past, so to put an exact number on how many Castles Scotland has had officially is very difficult.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotlander
Eilean Donan Castle

Why are their so many Castles in Scotland?

Scottish Castles were built for defensive purposes, to hold onto power and defend its owner and their residents against invaders.

Scotland and most of Britain was in Civil War for the majority of the Middle Ages. As Clans, Lords and Nobles warred with each other or revolted against the State. They required a defensive structure to hold onto the power they currently had and to defend themselves and their community from possible attacks.

Castles were also built to defend against foreign invaders, which Scotland has had its fair share of, Romans, Vikings and the English all looked to conquer Scotland. The Castles we see today were built after the Roman & Viking invasions, these were predominately built when Scotland and England fought wars with each other. As a result of this long and warlike history, over 2,000 castles were built in Scotland alone.

Rothesay Castle, Scotlander
Rothesay Castle

First recorded castle siege in Scotland?

The first recorded siege we know of was In 1230, albeit we are sure there has been earlier castle sieges which have not been recorded. This siege took place at Rothesay Castle, on the Isle of Bute, in western Scotland. Haakon IV King of Norway, had ordered his men to capture Castle Rothesay to add to his growing empire. After a three day siege and much blood lost on both sides Castle Rothesay fell to the Norwegian Kings men. However they were unable to hold Castle Rothesay and were soon forced to retreat.

King of Norway, Haakon IV returned in person with a large squad of Longships to re-take Castle Rothesay in 1263.  King Haakon IV did succeed and reclaimed the Castle, and possibly would have advanced and done further attacks but a strong Scottish storm done severe damage to his plans and his naval fleet of Longships.

Haakon IV at this point in time had great power, King of Norway and has recently added Iceland and Greenland to his kingdom leaving Norway at its territorial height. They decided to fall back to the Orkney Isles to winter their and during this time Haakon IV fell ill and died at Bishops Palace, Kirkwall in Orkney.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotlander
Edinburgh Castle

What is the biggest Castle in Scotland?

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s biggest castle, its floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet with over 1,000 rooms and 13 acres of land. Edinburgh Castle is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and the Ministry of Defence. The Royal Scots have an army garrison still in use at Edinburgh Castle and if you do visit you will see the Royal Scots on guard.

Edinburgh Castle was built on Castle Rock, which archaeologists believe human occupation on this site date back to the Iron Age. Castle Rock is a volcanic plug, which is estimated to be 350 million years old. Edinburgh Castle has not been around quite so long, having been built in the 12th century by David I, King of Scotland 1124 to 1153.

Edinburgh Castle is now an iconic tourist attraction is Scotland with over 2 million annual visitors.

Aberdour Castle, Scotlander
Aberdour Castle

What is the oldest Castle in Scotland?

Their are two contenders for Scotland’s oldest Castle still standing today, Aberdour Castle and Castle Sween, both dating back to around the 12th century.

Aberdour Castle is one of the oldest stone built Castles still standing today in Scotland. Which experts believe could date back to the 12th century.

Aberdour Castle is located in Fife and is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, and is open to the public all year round.

Robert the Bruce gifted Aberdour Castle to his nephew, Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray in 1325. He had fought bravely for his uncle during the Wars of Independence. Famously reclaiming Edinburgh Castle from the English in a daring attack which proved to be successful in 1314.

Castle Sween is also a contender for the oldest Castle in Scotland, having been built around a similar time by Suibhne, believed to have close family ties to the King of Ulster and High King of Ireland.

Castle Sween is located on the shores of Loch Sween in Knapdale. Castle Sween is also in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public.

Castle Stalker, Scotlander
Castle Stalker

What is the most beautiful Castle in Scotland?

We believe the magnificent Castle Stalker is Scotland’s most beautiful Castle. Located in Argyll, on an island surrounded by the water of Loch Linnhe.

Castle Stalker was built by Clan MacDougall around 1320, Castle Stalker has changed owners between different Clans including the Stewarts and the Campbells.

It remains privately owned to this day however it does open its doors to the public on occasion. This does not deter visitors flocking here to capture its beauty and to soak in the view from afar.

Crichton Castle, Scotlander
Crichton Castle

What Scottish Castle is a hidden gem?

We believe Crichton Castle in Midlothian is a true hidden gem, it is hard to believe, but on occasion we have found ourselves the only visitors their. 

Crichton Castle was built in the 14th century by the Crichton family. The castle changed hands and Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell was its most former owner until he was arrested and and accused of Witchcraft.

In 1591 Crichton Castles owner, Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell was charged with trying to arrange the Kings death through sorcery and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle.

Since then Crichton Castle fell into ruin over time and Historic Environment Scotland took over the care of the castle and it is now open to the public.

Who owns Scotland’s Castles?

Many of Scotland’s Castles are privately owned by direct decedents, Clan Chiefs or have been privately purchased. Many of these castles which are privately owned still do open their doors to the public.

Historic Environment Scotland own 65 Castles in Scotland and aim to care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment.

The Historic Environment Scotlands castles are open to the public and these include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Caerlaverock Castle to name but a few.

Stirling Castle, Scotlander
Stirling Castle