Evocative of the turbulent history they stand testimony to, Scotland is a country of mountains and lochs, sea cliffs and islands, with hundreds of castles in inspired defensive locations.

Many of the ancient fortifications are now in ruins, but they were built so strongly their erosion is a very gradual process and visitors today can gain a lot of insight into their former glory.

These dramatic structures have withstood the test of time and borne witness to deeds innumerable: battles, sieges, conspiracies, intrigue and insurrection. Then there are the more modern Scottish castles, stately homes that are the seats of the aristocracy. Here are some of the best castles in Scotland, well worth visiting!


Balmoral Castle is an impressive country house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland which has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.

Prince Albert built a new larger castle beside the original residence and, under the terms of Victoria’s will, the estate has passed in turn to each of her descendents with successive Royal owners following Albert’s initiative in making improvements to the property.


Inveraray Castle is a country house near Inveraray in the county of Argyll, in western Scotland, on the shore of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch. It has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell since the 17th century.

The castle’s interior even eclipses its exterior although only part of it is open to the public, the rooms on the northwest front. These are sumptuously furnished, with fine tapestries, paintings, furniture, china, wood carving and plasterwork.

Eilean Donan

Probably the most photographed Scottish castle, Eilean Donan is instantly recognisable with its stately tower-house and romantic arched bridge, across which we see the MacLeods emerging at the outset of The Highlander.

Built atop a small tidal island at the meeting point of Loch Alsh, Loch Duich and Loch Long in the western Highlands, the original fortified structure dates back to the 13th century. Destroyed in 1719, the castle was lovingly rebuilt in the early part of the 20th century…

Words Iain Blackwell
Read the rest of this article