2014 is a big year for the Scottish, with the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow and the vote for Independence in September.
The Scots have a proud history and feature some of the most amazing medieval Castles in the World, many of which have featured in quintessential literature such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, on TV such as in Downton Abbey, as well as the big screen, notably The Queen. And of course one of the most famous and wealthiest women in the world, Queen Elizabeth II enjoys retreating to Balmoral with her family each year.
There were once up to 3000 castles spread throughout Scotland, and whilst initially built for practical reasons given the fortification and protection that they provided, they now evoke not only a sense of history but of wealth and grandeur.
In this article we look at 5 of the greats, spread from the capital Edinburgh up to the Highlands.
The Balmoral Estate covers 50,000 acres in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire and was purchased by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria in 1852. The initial house was deemed too small so Prince Albert together with Architect William Smith built a new castle, and is an example of Scots Baronial architecture. It consists of two-wings, the South-Western block which contains of the main residence and the South-Eastern block which is the service wing. The original house was demolished in 1856. It remains a Private Residence owned by the Queen rather than the Crown.
Stirling Castle, Stirlingshire
From both a historical and architectural point, Stirling Castle is one of the most notable in Scotland set 250 feet above the plains it is both imposing and grand. It dates back to the 13th Century and it was one of the favourite homes of numerous Stuart monarchs, being the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots. Its history has also witnessed such icons as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
Inveraray Castle, Argyllshire
Viewers of the TV-series Downton Abbey will recognise the rather stunning, beautiful and ornate Inveraray Castle, which is set upon 60,000 acres and includes enchanting gardens is located in western Scotland on the shore of Loch Fyne.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
The cliff-side Culzean Castle is located on the coast of Ayrshire and can be seen on the back of the five pound note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Built in the 18th Century Culzean is a fairy tale-like castle featuring both turrets and battlements, it looks down upon the Firth of Clyde waters and is surrounded by 500 acres of formal gardens and forests. The grand oval staircase and exquisitely furnished residential rooms are in perfect condition and the Eisenhower apartment, presented as a gift from Scotland to General Eisenhower in 1945 in thanks for his efforts during World War 2, can be rented to paying guests today.
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire
A 16th Century Baronial Castle and set on 300 acres Fraser is certainly one of the most impressive. If you’ve watched Dame Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning performance in The Queen, you’ll have seen Castle Fraser. Originally known as Muchall-in-Mar, it is homely, grand and majestic.