Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Castles to Explore in Scotland (2023)
Scotland, a land steeped in history, mystery, and breathtaking landscapes, is synonymous with its majestic castles. While Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle might ring a bell for most travelers, Scotland is home to countless lesser-known castles that deserve attention.
Scotland’s Lesser Known Castles That Are Worth Exploring
In this journey through Scotland’s hidden gems, we’ll explore some of these captivating yet often overlooked castles, promising unique experiences and glimpses into Scotland’s rich past.
1. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
Perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle offers a fascinating history and panoramic views. With its roots reaching back to the Early Middle Ages, this ruined medieval fortress in Scotland was instrumental in protecting the Scottish Crown Jewels from Oliver Cromwell’s invading army.
Best Time to Visit: Spring to early autumn for clearer views.
2. Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries
Known for its unique triangular design, Caerlaverock Castle is a moated fortress that stands as an architectural marvel. Explore its siege warfare exhibition, enjoy bird-watching in the nearby nature reserve, and attend the thrilling medieval events held during summer in Scotland.
Best Time to Visit: Summer for events and wildlife spotting.
3. Corgarff Castle, Strathdon
Set amidst the remote beauty of the Scottish Highlands, Corgarff Castle’s distinctive star-shaped perimeter walls are a sight to behold. Originally a noble residence, it later served as a military barracks. Corgarff offers an immersive experience of Scotland’s turbulent history.
Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early autumn for the best weather.
4. Castle Stalker, Argyll
Castle Stalker, a picturesque four-story tower house on a tidal islet on Loch Laich in Scotland, is a dream for photographers. Though privately owned, limited tours are offered, allowing you to enjoy its stunning interiors and a view that’s pure magic.
Best Time to Visit: May to September when tours are typically available.
5. Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire
This pinkish-hued castle looks like it’s been plucked straight from a fairy tale. Craigievar Castle, with its striking appearance and authentic Great Hall, has no artificial lighting in its upper floors to preserve its 17th-century ambiance.
Best Time to Visit: Summer, for longer days and the ability to truly appreciate the castle’s unique lighting.
6. Mingary Castle, Kilchoan
Recently restored, Mingary Castle on the Ardnamurchan peninsula provides a rare opportunity to stay within its walls. Its remote location in Scotland and rich Viking history make it an extraordinary experience for history enthusiasts.
Best Time to Visit: Summer, to make the most of the remote location and outdoor exploration.
7. Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe
A stunning ruin at the northeastern end of Loch Awe, Kilchurn Castle offers beautiful vistas and exploration opportunities. Accessible by boat or a short walk, this castle offers a delightful and tranquil experience.
Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early autumn when the castle is accessible.
Scotland’s lesser-known castles provide an intimate and off-the-beaten-path experience for travelers looking to delve into the country’s history, architecture, and scenic beauty. From the haunting ruins of Dunnottar to the fairy-tale charm of Craigievar, these hidden gems offer unique stories and sights, enriching your Scottish adventure.
Plan your trip, pack your bags, and let these captivating castles guide you through Scotland’s rich tapestry of history and landscape.
- Coventry, M. (2010). “The Castles of Scotland.” Goblinshead.
- Lindsay, M. (1986). “The Castles of Scotland.” Constable & Co.
- Brown, C. (2005). “Scotland’s Hidden Castles.” History Scotland Magazine.
- VisitScotland. (2021). “Castles and Clans.” Official Tourism Website.