Castles in the Scottish Highlands
Most likely your travels through Scotland will take you to the Scottish Highlands. These incredibly beautiful and mountainous regions of Scotland are a sight to behold. Here the breath-taking splendor of rugged mountains combined with serene lakes has earned the Highlands the reputation of being one of the most scenic regions in Europe. Though the Highlands are sparsely populated, they have a fairly high concentration of striking Scottish Highland castles which dot the landscape. Some of these castles have fallen into disrepair while others have been carefully preserved. Still others act as private homes which let out accommodation on their expansive grounds. Why not add a new dimension to your trip to the highlands and combine a few interesting old castles with the rest of your sightseeing? You’ll be amazed at the natural and man-made variety that can be found in the Scottish Highlands.
Balnagown Castle, also spelt as Balnagowan, is an ancient seat of the Ross family. Their name and title is derived from the County of Ross Highland, where they held ancestral land. Located near Tain on the southern bank of the Balnagown River, the castle is two miles northwest of Invergordo in the Parish of Kilmuir Easter. Surrounded by thickly forested hills, the castle dominates the narrow wooded valley of the Balnagown River as there are very few structures around.
Located 4.5 miles west of Forres and 24 miles east of Inverness, on the east coast of Scotland, Brodie Castle is a fine 16th-century tower house set in peaceful parkland. The land was originally given to the Brodie family in 1140 by Malcolm IV and the castle was with the family till the late twentieth century.
Carbisdale Castle was built for the controversial, much married Dowager Duchess of Sutherland Lady Mary who was the second wife of George, 3rd Duke and 18th Earl of Sutherland. He bequeathed his entire estate to her on his death, which was contested by her step-son, the 4th Duke. After much litigation and bitterness a settlement was reached whereby the Sutherland family agreed to build a suitable residence of her choice at their expense outside the Sutherland estate.
It stands high on a rocky peninsula like a lone white sentinel, overlooking the North Sea that lashes the cliff on all sides. Pristine white-washed walls are topped by romantic turrets and perched over swirling waves. Dunbeath Castle on its estate is situated on the northern tip of Scotland, just south of Wick. A driveway leads through deep, dense woods, past stone pillars and a gatehouse covered with ivy. Suddenly you glimpse the pristine white castle at the end of driveway, when you least expect it.
Dunvegan Castle, located on the Isle of Skye is the pride of the Hebrides. Located 22 miles west of Portree, it has been the home and seat of the Chiefs of MacLeod since the 1200s. Built on a rock that was once entirely surrounded by the sea, it stands on the edge of Loch Dunvegan, the most famous landmark in Skye.
Eilean Donan Castle rises like a silent vision where three Scottish sea lochs, Loch Long, Loch Duich and Loch Alsh meet. The name means Island of Donan, for a hermit St Donan who lived on the island in beginning of the seventh century. The original fort was built on the island of Eilean Donan at least eight hundred years ago but the castle you see today is mostly built in the early 20th century.
Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Macbeth’ was supposedly based in the earlier 11th century Inverness Castle, the location of Duncan’s murder. The present Inverness Castle may not be witness to anything so dramatic, but as the premises of the Sheriff’s Court it may not be without its own tales of crime and passion.
It was love at first sight. The late Queen Mother of England saw the Castle of Mey for the first time in 1952 while on a visit to Scotland. She was mourning the recent death of her husband, King George VI and the castle, known as Barrogill Castle at that time, immediately charmed her. On hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to purchase it.
Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands is one of the most exclusive hotel resorts in Scotland and is home to the prestigious Carnegie Club. It was originally a 13th century stone tower house with a courtyard, built as a residence fortress of Gilbert de Moravia, Bishop of Caithness, and Skibo Castle continued as a residence for Bishops till 1545. Its Gaelic name is Schytherbolle, which means "place of peace" or "fairyland".
25 miles from Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, Castle Stalker stands at the mouth of Loch Laich. It is near Loch Linnhe, on a rocky islet known as the Rock of the Cormorants. Its Gaelic name Stalcaire, means falconer or hunter and it has had a long history of violence, particularly murder of its owners, associated with it. Right from Lord of Lorn, Sir John Stewart, who built the castle in its present form in the 1440s, and was murdered in1463, till the Governor of Sarawak, Duncan Stewart who owned the castle when he was murdered in 1947, many of the owners have had violent deaths.
Described by Winston Churchill as one of the most beautiful places he knew, Castle Tioram, pronounced 'Cheerum' is located on a rocky tidal island, Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart in the Western Highlands on the west coast of Scotland. Tioram is the Gaelic word for dry and the island is only accessible at low tide across a sandy spit. It stands where the waters of Loch Moidart and the river Shiel meet.
There is no better place to wait in hope of catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, than the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Built on an uneven rocky promontory on the edge of Loch Ness, the castle stood just two miles outside Drumnadrochit in the north of Scotland. Its strategic location guarded the major route to the Highlands.