Loch Leven Castle Has Seen It All

Loch Leven Castle stands on an island in Loch Leven and is accessible from Kinross by boat from the main pier opposite the Kirkgate Park. The castle is in the care of Historic Scotland. It has been witness to much drama of Scotland’s history.

The castle used to occupy the entire island but when the water level of the loch was subsequently lowered it has grounds around it. Loch Leven Castle has survived various sieges by the English during the 14th Century. It was granted to the Douglas family in 1372 by King Robert II. The five storey square tower house was built by them and dates from the 15th Century. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here.

Loch Leven Castle is a good example of a “castle of enclosure” with its well preserved irregularly shaped curtain wall, towerhouse and smaller round tower called the Glassin Tower. Parts of the castle date back to the early 1300s. It is accessed in an unusual manner, directly at the second floor level, leaving the first floor without external communication.

The second floor held the lord’s hall, with two levels of apartments above it which are now roofless and floorless. The battlements above have corbelled bartizans at the three external corners. Below the hall were the kitchens, accessed by a spiral stair from the hall, while on the ground floor, and accessible only by hatch and ladder, were the storage cellars.

This castle has an extensive courtyard, with a continuous rampart walk. At the corner opposite the tower house is the Glassin Tower in which Mary Queen of Scots was confined till she escaped. This was a sixteenth century structure like the other buildings in the courtyard. Only the foundations now remain of these.

It was bought in 1675 along with a sizable estate from the indigent Douglases by Sir William Bruce, well known architect, just for its romantic appearance. He built his palatial new home Kinross House just across, overlooking the loch and the remnants of the castle. Loch Leven Castle has been a ruin since the 18th Century and can be accessed by ferry.

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