Who doesn’t love a named connection, a celebrity tie-in, a famous face to associate with? Admittedly not everyone, but castles with royal connections are certainly high on the hit list for those looking to stay in a castle.
As the world celebrated the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first born on Monday 6 May 2019, the attention was very much around Windsor Castle and their home within Windsor Great Park, Frogmore Cottage.
And while we’ve previously presented fascinating facts about royal castles, this time we bring you a collection of castles with royals connections. These rarely make the headlines in the way that Windsor and Holyrood do, which in many respects makes them that little bit extra special too.
In recent history, Glamis Castle was best known as the family home of The Queen Mother. The Lyon family have owned the castle since the 1300s, although she would have been more familiar with its present day construction of 17th-century origin. Her youngest daughter, Princess Margaret, was born here in 1930.
As the first of our castles with royal connections, its regal links go back a thousand years or more. Built as a royal hunting lodge, Scottish monarch King Malcolm II was killed here in 1034.
2. Roxburgh Castle
Besieged by James II and his troops in 1460, it was one of the last Scottish castles to be held by the English after the Wars of Independence. At the ripely confident age of 29, James led his men to regain control of the castle, but was fatally injured during his ventures.
The castle was razed to prevent falling back into English hands, which lasted all of 90 years. During attempts to marry Edward IV of England and Mary, Queen of Scots in 1547, Roxburgh Castle was fortified by the English. As a result of peace talks and the Treaty of Norham in 1550, it was agreed by both sides to demolish it.
Floors Castle & Gardens is not only Scotland’s largest inhabited castle, but this stately home sits on neighbouring land to Roxburgh Castle. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh, visitors can tour parts of the castle and its vast collection of fine art and antiques as well as its impressive grounds. On your wander, see if you can spot the holly tree where James II is said to have fallen from his injuries. It’s a light link to royalty but we love a legend!
Make a day of it combining an explore of Roxburgh Castle ruins and the stunning views across the rivers Tweed and Teviot that flow in parallel below.
4. Dumbarton Castle
Probably one of the oldest and longest fortified sites in Scotland, Dumbarton Castle is known at the Rock of the Clyde. Garrisoned until the end of World War II, the rock has played a pivotal role in Scotland’s territorial history.
It was first attacked in the 8th century and switched hands during the Wars of Independence. It was during the second of these that King David II took refuge at Dumbarton Castle en route to exile in France.
James IV besieged Dumbarton Castle in the 1400s in a battle with the Earl of Lennox. Some 200 years later Oliver Cromwell got his hands on it during the English Civil War.
5. Dundonald Castle
Built by Robert II in 1371, Dundonald Castle marked the beginning of his reign as King of Scotland. The castle’s royal connections continued under the Stewart dynasty until the late 1400s.
You can visit its impressive remains on select days during the summer months.
6. Dunure Castle
This spectacular castle ruin on the shores of the Firth of Clyde is the home of tenuous royal connections:
- It was once the primary residence of the Kennedy clan who are now best known in relation to Culzean Castle. Way back in the 1300s when Scotland was ruled by King Robert III, one of his daughters married a Kennedy.
- Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here for three days while touring her nation during her brief reign over Scotland
7. Rowallan Castle
Continuing the more tenuous line of castles with royals connections, Rowallan Castle has many fabulous and fascinating facts associated to it, but we’ll focus here on the regal ones:
- It is thought that the wife of King Robert II of Scotland, Elizabeth Mure, was born on the original form of Rowallan Castle in the 14th century.
- King James I of Scotland stayed here en route to England.
8. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is also known as The Royal Palace and is the Scottish castle with royal connections galore. You’ll find it in Crown Square at the opposite end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace.
There’s a grandeur about the place that’s more stately home than castle, but its strong stone facade does well to hide its military role, then and now. Home to kings and queens as well as soldiers, it has many a tale to tell, which makes it one of Edinburgh’s busiest visitor attractions.
- Queen Margaret died here in 1093 and was later beatified.
- Her son, David I, built St Margaret’s Chapel in her memory.
- King James IV completed Crown Square and The Great Hall in the early 1500s.
- Queen Mary of Guise died here.
- Her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to her son here, James VI.
- Edinburgh Castle ceased to be a royal residence in 1603 upon the Union of the Crowns.
- Charles I spent the night here before his coronation in 1633 and proved to be the last monarch to reside here.
- Scotland’s version of the Crown Jewels, The Honours of Scotland, are on display here and were first used for a coronation in the 1540s.
9. Linlithgow Palace
On the outskirts of Edinburgh, about 15 miles west of the city, are the ruins of Linlithgow Palace. Castle like in structure and stately in its parkland estate with loch, it was a prominent royal residence in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Remarkably unified in its construction, see if you can spot the various parts of the castle started in the reigns of James I through to James VI. In fact, only James II didn’t instruct building works here during this period.
James V and Mary, Queen of Scots were both born here in during the 1500s and one has to wonder what they would make of its use as an Outlander filming location many centuries later!
> Stay in a castle near Edinburgh like this one
10. Notland Castle
You’ll have to use your imagination if you visit what remains of 16th-century Notland Castle. This tower house dates back to the mid 1500s when it was built by Gilbert Balfour who was Master of the Royal Household to Mary, Queen of Scots.
100 years later it acted as a refuge for Royalist soldiers in retreat from the Battle of Carbisdale. Visit and roam freely to see what you can see.
11. Ravenscraig Castle
King James II of Scotland instructed the build of Ravenscraig Castle near Kirkcaldy in 1460, just months before he was fatally injured at Roxburgh Castle. It was built to order for his wife, Mary of Guelders, who went on to live within the West Tower.
Although a ruin today, it was one of the first castles in Scotland designed and constructed to protect those inside from cannon fire.
12. Rothesay Castle
Celebrated for its fortitude and its unique design, Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute is one of a kind. Its situation in medieval times overlooked Viking controlled waters. By the time the Stewarts came to the Scottish throne in the 1600s it was a safe royal residence enjoyed by this era of monarchs.
Check opening days and times but it’s well worth a visit to this well preserved early example of medieval castle construction.
13. Law Castle
It’s time to re-think your wedding list! Law Castle, in West Kilbride, was built and gifted as a wedding present for the eldest daughter of James II of Scotland, Princess Mary. She married Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran.
There were clearly no department store wedding lists in the 15th-century but still, the construction of this grand stone tower house is certainly generous!
If staying in a castle is your thing, Law Castle is available to rent for holidays for you and 13 of your family and friends.
14. Stirling Castle
With its roots firmly planted by Alexander I in the 12th-century, Stirling Castle flipped between the control of Scottish and English kings throughout the tumultuous centuries that followed.
- James II did away with his Earl of Douglas here.
- James III’s wife died here.
- James IV commissioned the construction of the Great Hall.
- James V was crowned here at just 17 months old.
- Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned here.
- James VI was baptised and schooled here. He also commissioned the Chapel Royal.
- Queen Victoria visited in 1849.
- Queen Elizabeth II visited in 2007 and opened the refurbished Palace of James V in 2011.
That’s a healthy dose of day trips whether you like castles, ruins or regal connections. Now all you need is a place to stay for you and the brood.
Enjoyed reading this? You might also enjoy these fascinating facts about royal castles.
Read more in our castles in Scotland series including:
1. Eilean Donan Castle
2. Urquhart Castle
3. Dunnottar Castle
4. Culzean Castle
5. Balmoral Castle
6. Crathes Castle
7. Glamis Castle
8. Floors Castle
9. Dunrobin Castle
10. 7 reasons to visit Stirling
11. Castles in Scotland – all you need to know
12. 14 Scottish castles with Royal connections
13. Fascinating facts about royal castles
14. Our top 10 castles to stay in Scotland
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