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Castles in Scotland

Close up of Brodie Castle tower

Some of the most recognisable castles in Scotland are in our care. Whether you’re walking in the footsteps of Jacobites, feasting your eyes on priceless collections, learning about Scotland’s architectural heritage, or admiring the spectacular gardens, visiting one of our castles is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Scottish culture and history.

Aberdeenshire castles

Castle Fraser

The core of Castle Fraser, one of the grandest tower houses in Scotland, may date back to the 1450s. In the 16th century, successive generations of the Fraser family made additions to the castle and built it up into a huge fortified structure. For over 400 years, the lairds filled it with an extensive collection of portraits and mementos that show how tastes and fashions have changed over the centuries.

Did you know?

There are lots of secret spaces in Castle Fraser, including the laird’s lug – a tiny hideaway that spies and the laird himself used to eavesdrop on visitors in the Great Hall.

This iconic tower house is famous for its pink walls and fairytale feel – rumour has it that it was an inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. Construction began around 1576, and it’s a fine example of the Scottish Baronial style. Much of the exterior remains almost unchanged since around 1626.

Did you know?

Early in 2019 a volunteer at Craigievar discovered a heavy studded oak door in one of the castle’s barmkin buildings – we think it’s the original front door to the castle and possibly the oldest door in our care.

Given to the Irvine family by Robert the Bruce, and with links to the Jacobites (the castle’s 17th laird fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden), Drum Castle is steeped in Scottish history. There are tales to discover outside, too, where the Garden of Historic Roses shows which roses were available for cultivation from the 17th to the 20th century.

Did you know?

The castle’s famous Victorian library, which is home to over 4,000 rare books, also has a secret network of chambers concealed behind its bookcases.

An organ, art and furniture adorn the exquisite Gallery of Fyvie Castle

With almost 800 years of history, Fyvie Castle gives you a great sense of what life in auld Scotland was like. This magnificent fortress is now a fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture, with carved sandstone exteriors that hint at the castle’s lavish interiors. Here you’ll find world-famous oil paintings and impressive suits of armour.

Did you know?

High up on the exterior walls at Fyvie Castle, you might spot a number of stone ‘guardians’, ranging from musicians and sportsmen to fantastic beasts.

Iconic Castles

Culzean Castle

The former home of the 10th Earl of Cassillis (a man who really liked to show off his wealth), Culzean Castle is a place of outlandish opulence. Perched on the Ayrshire cliffs, it was designed for one of Scotland’s oldest families – the Culzean Kennedys – by Robert Adam, the top Scottish architect of his day. From the famous Oval Staircase, to the vast collection of pistols and swords on display, to the expansive surrounding parkland and manicured gardens, there are lots of reasons why it’s one of the best castles in Scotland.

Did you know?

General Dwight D Eisenhower used the top floor of Culzean Castle as his family’s holiday home for more than 20 years.

As revered for its setting as much as its history, Brodick Castle stands proud on the Isle of Arran, surrounded by many of the things that Scotland is known for – mountains, water, woodland and wildlife. The current castle, filled with Victorian artefacts and trophies (as well as a traditional arcade), was built in 1844, but the seat dates back centuries as a strategic fortress.

Did you know?

In the gardens at Brodick you’ll find a reconstructed Bronze Age roundhouse that helps us show visitors how communities once lived in ancient Scotland.

The different sections of Brodie Castle – the 16th-century guard chamber, the cosy 17th-century wing, and the sprawling Victorian extension – show how the castle’s purpose changed over time. More recently, it’s become one of the best places in Scotland to see daffodils, which were the favourite flower of the castle’s 24th laird, Ian Brodie. There are more than 400 varieties in the grounds, many of which he bred himself.

Did you know?

Brodie Castle is now home to Scotland’s biggest bunny sculpture. It’s part of our Playful Garden, where children can play and learn as they explore the castle’s rich history in a different way.

Part-medieval castle, part-Victorian home, the oldest sections of Kellie Castle date back to the 14th century, but the elaborate interiors were installed by the Lorimer family in the late 1800s. The Lorimers were an artistic family, and the castle is home to stunning ornamental ceilings, exquisite furniture, intricate murals and traditional Scottish walled garden.

Did you know?

A mural above the fireplace in the Drawing Room was painted in 1897 by Phoebe Anna Traquair, one of the most famous Arts & Crafts artists.

The largest surviving keep in Scotland seems bold and forbidding from the outside, but inside Alloa Tower is a treasure house of art and riches. It’s also home to a fascinating history, including tales of the Erskine family and their involvement in the Jacobite cause. Both Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James VI spent time at the castle as children.

Did you know?

There’s a medieval pit dungeon at Alloa Tower that is probably the oldest part of the building – dare you take a peek?!

Scottish Palaces

Falkland Palace

One of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland, Falkland Palace was inspired by the grand châteaux in France. It was brought to life by James IV and James V in the early 16th century and was a favourite retreat for the Stuart kings and queens, with its splendid gardens and royal chapel. In the 19th century it was on the verge of ruin, but was saved by the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Did you know?

Mary, Queen of Scots adored Falkland. She spent her time there hunting, enjoying falconry and playing a spot of tennis on what is now the oldest real (or royal) tennis court in the world.

Although not a royal palace, this impressive house definitely aspires to it! Built for merchant and engineer Sir George Bruce around the start of the 17th century, Culross Palace is painted in an eye-catching ochre colour, making it really stand out among the white-harled buildings of the historic Culross burgh. The small living spaces and fascinating painted ceilings inside offer a fascinating glimpse into 17th- and 18th-century life.

Did you know?

Culross Palace and other parts of the burgh have been used for filming on the hit TV series Outlander. Can you spot Jamie and Claire in the Withdrawing Room?

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