If you are on vacation in Scotland you have the opportunity to stay at an authentic castle. They are steeped in history which the owners are only to happy to tell you about. But it not always easy to track them down, particularly if you are tied to a specific area. So here are details of thirty castles in Scotland which offer accommodation. And even if you are not planning a trip in the near future, we can all dream, can't we?
North of Wick in the far north of Scotland, Ackergill Tower is situated above the sea. It was originally built for the Clan Keith around 1476 it was later owned by the Dunbar family from 1696 onwards. In 1988 more than a million pounds was spent on creating a location for corporate and private entertaining in a secluded setting. But the original Dunbar family mementoes are still there to make guests feel they are in a private home. Much of the food is grown on the 3,000 acre estate and sporting activities and an evening ceilidh can be arranged.
Airth Castle, Stirlingshire>
See the illustration above. The building incorporates a 14th century keep which is now known as Wallace's Tower although it was from an earlier castle on the site that he rescued an uncle. In the 15th century the Bruce family created much of the castle and it was extended in the 16th and 19th centuries. The amazing Dunmore Pineapple> is near by.
Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, Tarbert, Isle of Harris
Built by the Earl of Dunmore in 1868, overlooks the islands of Soay and Taransay (which leapt to fame in a BBC TV series in 2000. The castle is privately owned but it can be hired by groups for shooting and fishing holidays. There are also residential cookery and painting classes at certain times of the year.
Ardtornish Castle, Morvern>
Ardtornish was a 14th century hall belonging to the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. The estate covers 60 square miles of hills, rivers and lochs at the head of Loch Aline, a sea loch. Accommodation is not in the ruined castle but there is self-catering accommodation in Ardtornish House and the estate cottages.
Auchen Castle Hotel, Beattock, Dumfriesshire>
A 19th century mansion in 30 acres of gardens and woodlands with views over the Moffat hills. A few miles from the M74, the main road from England to Glasgow.
The Old Mansion House Hotel started life as a 13th century castle which was converted into a 16th century baronial mansion by the Earl of Strathmore (who also owned Glamis Castle). It is set in 14 acres of grounds and there is an outside swimming pool. As yet there is no Web site but you can e-mail the owners at email@example.com>
Balfour Castle, Isle of Shapinsay, Orkney>
The Castle, complete with original furniture, dates back to the 1840s and guests have access to its main rooms of library, dining room, drawing room with adjoining conservatory. There is a chapel in the castle too.
Barcaldine Castle, Near Oban
Barcaldine Castle is the 16th Century family home of the Campbells of Barcaldine situated on the south shore of Loch Creran with magnificent views up the loch to Glencoe.
Barns Tower, near Peebles, Scottish Borders
This ancient defence tower was built in the late 16th century on the banks of the River Tweed within a country estate for William Burnet, the 4th Laird of Barns and his wife Margaret Stewart of the House of Traquair. Their initials W.B and M.S are carved above one of the upper floor windows. It has been refurbished to provide accommodation with modern facilities, but the original architectural design with thick walls, hearths and stone staircases is still carefully preserved. Barns Tower is a unique, miniature, intimate "Scottish castle" perfect for a romantic retreat for two. Due to the steep staircase and general historic nature of the Tower, with rooms on four floors, it is not suitable for the elderly, infirm or children. See also the review at Great Places to Stay.
Blairquhan Castle, Ayrshire Not far from Maybole in South Ayrshire, Blairquhan Castle is a Georgian castle, built for Sir David Hunter Blair 3rd Baronet in 1821 - 1824 on the site of a previous castle dating back to 1346. It is set at the centre of a 2000 acre estate of woodlands and countryside. The castle is available for exclusive rental and there is a substantial Lodge sleeping 21 and 7 self catering holiday rental cottages.
Borthwick Castle, Gorebridge, Lothians> This twin-towered baronial keep was built by the first Lord Borthwick in 1430 but on the site of an earlier fortification. It has strong associations with Mary Queen of Scots as she came here with her third husband the Earl of Bothwell after their wedding. A force of 1000 men, intent on killing Bothwell, turned up. Mary negotiated with them - while Bothwell slipped away. Next morning Mary also escaped, disguised as a page boy.
In the 17th century, during the Civil War, Cromwell besieged the castle which surrendered after only a few cannon shots had been fired. One shot damaged the parapet - the damaged stonework can still be seen.
A hall on the first floor of the main part of the castle has a minstrel's gallery. The walls are exceptionally thick, extending to three metres and there are stairs within these walls. Described as one of the most impressive castles in Scotland, it has become a first class hotel.
Carbisdale Castle, Sutherland
Although only built in 1910-11, but even so it is reputed to have more than one ghost! It was constructed on the site of Culrain Lodge and the Marquis of Montrose defeated the Coveananters not far from the castle.
Castle of Park, Morayshire
Built on land granted to a Norman knight in the 13th century, the original castle was owned by the Gordon family. During the 18th and 19th Centuries the castle was transformed from a baron’s fortress into an elegant country home. There is a mysterious Green Lady of Park whose ghostly appearance has been reported on many occasions.
Comlongon Castle, Dumfriesshire>
Comlongon's history goes back to the 14th century when the Earl of Moray, Thomas Randolph, gave the land to his nephew, Sir William Murray. A massive tower was built in the 15th century with dungeons, spiral stone staircase and painted ceilings. The entrance still has its original iron gate and there is a well in the basement. Guests can take a candle-lit tour of the medieval keep and Great Hall - and may even catch a glimpse of the ghost, said to be the spirit of Marion Carruthers who committed suicide after being forced to marry a man she did not love. The castle is set in over 120 acres of secluded grounds, including ornamental ponds, sweeping lawns and woodlands.
Craighall Castle, Blairgowrie, Perthshire
Craighall (also known as Craighall-Rattray) is a 19th century mansion house which incorporates part of an earlier tower house. It stands on a steep hill, overlooking the river Ericht. The Rattrays have occupied this part of the country since the 11th century and still live in the castle.
Culcreuch Castle, Fintry, Stirlingshire>
The original keep of Culcreuch Castle was built in the 15th century and was originally owned by the Galbraith family. Over the centuries larger windows have been installed and it was extended in the 18th century. The castle is reputed to be haunted by a ghostly piper. It is now a family-run country house hotel set in 1600 acres of parkland.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
A suite of rooms at the top of Culzean Castle were gifted to General, later President Eisenhower, for his use during his lifetime, by a grateful nation via the National Trust for Scotland. The rooms in this splendid building, overlooking the sea, can now be rented from the Trust.
Dalhousie Castle, Dalkeith, Lothians>
There has been a castle here since the 13th century and in 1400 it withstood an attack by Henry IV of England. The corner towers of the early castle have been incorporated into a 16th century L-plan tower house. Cromwell besieged Dalhousie Castle in 1648 and was more successful than Henry IV. Extended in the 17th century, there were further internal alterations in the early part of the 19th century. The castle has a ghost - the "Grey Lady" and was visited by both Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria. At one stage it was used as a school but it has been a hotel since 1974.
Delgatie Castle, Turriff, Aberdeenshire>
Originally an 11th century castle which has been in the Hay family for most of the past 650 years. It has been restored and modernised and is now a stately mansion. The original part of the castle, a 15th century keep, has very thick walls. There is a fireplace lintel with a date of 1570 and Mary Queen of Scots spent a few nights in the castle.
Dornoch Palace, Dornoch>
Once the Palace of the Bishop's of Caithness and with a 14th century keep and a wing with a tower dating from 1550, Dornoch Palace or Castle is located in the heart of Dornoch, looking out over its gardens to the Dornoch Firth. It was restored and extended in the 19th century and has a courtyard garden. Dornoch Cathedral is close by. The hotel is privately owned.
Duns Castle, Duns, Berwickshire>
Incorporates parts of a 14th century keep but was altered and extended in the 18th and 19th century. It has been the home of the Hay family since 1696. The ghost of Alexander Hay who fell at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 is said to haunt the castle.
Erchless Castle, Inverness-shire
Erchless Castle was originally built as a classic Norman style L-shaped keep at the beginning of the 14th century. Both Georgian and Victorian additions were made to provide the Castle as it is today. It was the ancient home of the Chief of Clan Chisholm resident from the Norman Conquest until 1935. There is accommodation for 10-16 people.
Located near the top of a steep hill approximately eight miles east of Edinburgh, and two miles south east of Musselburgh. Within the grounds of the castle is a 17th Century barn which was converted in 1996 into two houses which are both let as self catering accommodation. More recently it has also become possible to stay within the castle. From the top of the tower it is possible to see as far as Dunbar, with panoramic views over the Firth of Forth with the hills of Fife behind. The castle is surrounded by woodland and lies within the East Lothian Greenbelt. Arable land surrounds the remains of the barmkin wall, which once enclosed the castle and outbuildings. A horse breeding facility was established on the estate in 2007 and specialises in the breeding of both dressage and sports horses and aims to expand within the near future.
Fenton Tower, North Berwick in East Lothian
This is a fortified tower dating from the 16th Century, that now provides luxury accommodation for up to twelve individuals and small groups looking to ‘get away from it all’. This listed ancient monument and a Category A-listed ‘keep’ has recently been meticulously restored under the supervision of Historic Scotland.
Fernie Castle, Fife>
It is likely that there was a castle here as far back as the 13th century although the present mansion incorporates a 16th century L-plan tower house which has seen a lot of alterations over the centuries and there are modern extensions.
Forbes Castle, Alford, Aberdeenshire>
More correctly, Castle Forbes, dates from 1815 when the 18th Lord Forbes commissioned a new family home. His great-great-great grandson and his wife now own the building and they emphasise that Castle Forbes is not a hotel but that guests are looked after personally by the owners.
Fordyce Castle, near Portsoy, Banff
The castle consists of a 16th century L-plan tower house and a wing possibly built around 1700. The latter provides self-catering accommodation for up to 4 people.
Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, Ayrshire
Glenapp Castle was built in 1870 by the renowned architect David Bryce. More than any other architect it was Bryce who developed the new Scotch Baronial design. - a flurry of round towers and turrets flanking grand wings leading off, oriel windows and bay windows perched above a flat gable. It is a now more of a country house than a hotel and residents are treated as personal guests as if visiting an aristocratic family for the weekend.
Glengarry Castle Hotel, Invergarry, Inverness-shire>
A privately owned country mansion in extensive wooded grounds, overlooking a loch and with impressive hill and forest views. Some rooms have four-poster beds.
Glengorm Castle, Near Tobermory, Mull
This fairy tale castle is set on the northern tip of the Isle of Mull. As the road winds out of Tobermory, the castle appears suddenly against the Atlantic and Outer Isles. It was designed to be dramatic and impressive and to this day it is still stunning both in style and setting.
Completed in 1860 as a grand Victorian castle, it contains many quarters that are now self catering apartments that are rented throughout the year. It now offers 4 star bed and breakfast accommodation as well as running the original walled garden as the island's main producer of fresh food for its hotels, shops and restaurants
Houston House, Uphall, Lothians>
This was originally a 17th-century L-plan Scottish Laird's Tower House. It has been altered considerably over the intervening years but still features poster beds and antique furniture. The land here was originally held by the Houston family and Sir Peter Houston was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.
Invercauld Castle, Braemar, Aberdeenshire
The Castle of Invercauld has been the seat of the Clan Farquharson Chiefs since the early 16th century with the present house partially rebuilt in 1874 in the Scottish Baronial style. The Earl of Mar called out the Highland clans from here at the start of the Jacobite Uprising of 1715. The castle accommodates up to 17 adults and 6 children at acost of from £17,000 per week, fully staffed and catered.
Inverlochy Castle, Fort William>
Close by Ben Nevis and Loch Ness, the original 13th century Inverlochy Castle is now a ruin and the present building was built in 1863. It stands in 500 acres of landscaped gardens, leading down to its own private loch. Queen Victoria visited Inverlochy in 1873 along with her ghillie, John Brown.
Kilravock Castle, near Nairn
The castle consists of a 15th century keep and a long 17th century addition. Mary Queen of Scots visited the castle in 1562 and Bonnie Prince Charlie was entertained here on the day before the Battle of Culloden in 1746 - the Duke of Cumberland at the head of the Hanoverian army called the next day. In 1787, Robert Burns paid a visit too. The castle offers bed & breakfast accommodation and The Granary, which is available for self-catering acommodation for groups of up to 30 people.
Page 2 - Castles Liberton Tower to Wedderburn >
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