While most people think of castles as residences for the royal, wealthy, or privileged, the Scots placed emphasis on much more than just edifice: defense was the primary purpose (though of course, the wealthy did enjoy living in them). During the Dark and Middle Ages, the British Isles were littered with skirmishes among invading vandals, neighboring cities, and even within the same extended families! But as times changed, along did Scotland’s castles, with adaptations to suit the new tools of warfare. Check out Panrimo’s favorite castles in Scotland and note the variety of castle styles, as well as the sheer magnificence!
7.) Culzean Castle
Although this castle may look less formidable than the rest on this list, note the turrets and battlements that were incorporated into the design, making this pretty, aristocratic looking castle a much deadlier force than it seems. The perfect place to walk and enjoy beautiful outdoor gardens, aside from the incredible interior, Culzean Castle is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
5.) Dunvegan Castle
Located on the Isle of Skye off the western coast of Scotland, Denvegan Castle overlooks Denvegan Loch and the Minch, a narrow straight separating the Inner Hebrides (inner Scottish isles, closest to the Western shore), from the more distant Outer Hebrides, providing fantastic views across the waters. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously habited castle in Scotland and is still the seat of the MacLeod Clan, an historically famous Scottish clan from the Isle of Skye, who welcome any and all visitors.
6.) Duart Castle
Located on the Isle of Mull, Duart castle looms above the green pastures on a raised cropping of rocks, giving it a fantastic vantage point of the surrounding coutry, as well as views across the Sound of Mull and even Ardmucknish Bay, on a clear day. Famously the seat of Clan MacLean, Duart Castle has been featured in popular culture, including making appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, When Eight Bells Toll, and Entrapment.
4.) Eilean Donan Castle
One of the most photographed castles in the country and considered by many to be the “Archetypal Scottish Castle,” Eilean Donan Castle is a sight to behold. Sitting proudly on its own island at a point where three great sea-lochs meet, Eilean Donan overlooks the Isle of Skye, with the mountains of Kintail creating a gorgeous backdrop for the castle. If you’re looking for a Scottish icon, look no further.
3.) Caerlaverock Castle
One of Scotland’s great medieval fortresses, Caerlaverock Castle is one of the most interesting looking Scottish castles, especially considering it’s external design. Situated in the middle of two motes, connected to land by a small bridge, and employing a twin-towered gatehouse, this castle is the perfect example of nearly impregnable defenses. Although the interior is quite ruined, the remains illustrate the grandeur this castle commanded.
2.) Stirling Castle
One of the most historically significant castles in Scottish history, Stirling Castle is located in Stirling, often called the Gateway to the Highlands and the site of many major battles, including the exploits of Sir William Wallace. Stirling Castle has seen at least eight major extended sieges and was an extremely important asset during the Wars of Scottish Independence. In fact, several Scottish kings and queens were crowned here, including Mary, Queen of Scots.
1.) Edinburgh Castle
Scotland’s number one attraction and recently voted the top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards, Edinburgh Castle is likely the most famous castle in Scotland. Although part of this may rest in the fact that it overlooks Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, the rich history surrounding this castle adds to its mystique. Today’s castle is a mix of military barracks, palace, fortress and war memorial, and currently hosts the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland. A fine honor for Scotland’s finest castle.