Aldourie’s top 3 castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

What is the best way to appreciate the stately grandeur of Aldourie Castle? How about visiting some of the most famous and intriguing castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands? Make more of your exclusive use stay in one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles and experience these mesmerising buildings up close.

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle sits on Stone Point on the north-western shore of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is close to water level and is inland so you can imagine where the gardens and orchards would have stood. It is the epitome of a Scottish castle ruin. For instance, it features a dry moat which would have, at one point, defended the castle. Access is provided by a stone-built causeway which would have featured a drawbridge at one time. The castle is a popular tourist spot for those visiting the Highlands or more specifically the quaint, lonely village of Drumnadrochit.castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

What is the history of Urquhart Castle?

The present ruins of Urquhart Castle date from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The castle played a substantial role in the Wars of Scottish Independence during the 14th century. Thereafter it was considered a royal castle, and was raided on several occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. Urquhart was granted to the Clan Grant in 1509, though endured further raids by the MacDonalds until it was abandoned during the mid-17th century. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed. In the 20th century it was opened to the public. It is one of the most-visited castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands to this day.

Why does Urquhart Castle appeal to tourists?

It’s all about size. The castle, situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness, is one of the largest (in area) in Scotland. Urquhart Castle is a spectacular sight to witness like any castle ruins. But the crowds are mainly drawn by its particularly scenic, famous and unique location: on the banks of Loch Ness. Loch Ness is famed for being the second largest lake in Scotland next to Loch Lomond, which is saying something. Not only that, but Loch Ness holds more water than any other lake in the British Isles. The combination of its historical beauty set against the dramatic scenery of the world famous Loch and the majestic Scottish Highlands is greatly appealing to holidaymakers.

Special fact or feature of the castle

Urquhart Castle’s historic files go way back which alone makes it one of the most fascinating historic castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands. The first documentary record of Urquhart Castle occurs in 1296, when it was captured by Edward I of England. Edward’s invasion marked the beginning of the Wars of Scottish Independence, which would go on intermittently until 1357. castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

Why is this a great castle to visit whilst staying at Aldourie?

The stunning castle ruins on the edge of Loch Ness is relatively local to Aldourie Estate, being only 40 minutes’ drive away. When you’re driving through the Scottish Highlands, time seems to disappear anyway. The roads are so easy to drive along as they sweep past the spectacular mountains and lochs and there’s little traffic intervention. There’s also so much to see and appreciate so before you know it you’ve reached your destination.

Guests staying at exclusive use Aldourie Castle are also pulled to this tourist attraction because both are situated on the shores of Loch Ness. This enables house parties to get experience a private chartered cruise direct from Aldourie’s own marina to the beautiful ruins of Urquhart Castle. To travel from one castle to another and back again is a unique opportunity for any holidaymaker.

Eilean Donan  – a magnificent castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

This attractively named landmark is one of the most recognised castles in the whole of Scotland. It’s famous image is seen on many a shortbread tin, tea towel and wall calendar of any Highlands gift shop.  Eilean Donan itself is a small island in the western Highlands and the meeting point of three sea lochs. The castle was restored in the early 20th century and now a footbridge connects the island to the mainland granting easy access to a somewhat untouchable Scottish landmark.

What is the history of Eilean Donan Castle?

Eilean Donan was named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celtic saint around in 617. The castle itself was founded in the 1200s, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and the Clan Macrae. The castle was destroyed in 1719 because of the Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellions. What you see now is the castle in its reconstructed form in the twentieth-century.castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

Interestingly, in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Alexander II, a large curtain-wall castle was constructed enclosing most of the island of Eilean Donan. At this time the area was at the boundary of the Norse-Celtic Lordship of the Isles and the Earldom of Ross. The island itself provided a strong defensive position against Norse expedition.

Why does Eilean Donan Castle appeal to tourists?

Eilean Donan is the up there with the most picturesque castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands. The Castle has frequently appeared in films, television dramas and documentaries making it a fabulous landmark backdrop for taking selfies. Eilean Donan is part of the Kintail National Scenic Area; not surprising considering its postcard-worthy setting against a shimmering water floor and lush green hills. Remarkably, in 2001, the island had a recorded population of just one person – even for Scotland that’s a pretty low land-person ratio!

Special fact or feature of the castle

Records suggest that there was a small Christian church on the island of Eilean Donan in the 6th or 7th century. Although no actual remains survive to this day fragments of stone do suggest an Iron Age or medieval history. This astonishing castle ruins has been redeveloped and reconstructed around six times; no wonder it looks tired now.

Why is this a great castle to visit whilst staying at Aldourie?

Eilean Donan is one of the most important attractions in the Scottish Highlands. It beholds a significant tapestry of history since its beginnings in the 6th century, all of which is well documented. Amongst its ongoing association with invasion and feuding over the centuries, the castle has seen many a clan stay within its walls. This resonates with Aldourie’s very own family history. It’s little wonder that many of Aldourie’s holiday cottage guests like to cross the bridge to the castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands which bears such heritage.

Dunnottar Castle – castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands on ancient ground

Dunnottar Castle is the ruins of a medieval fortress situated on scenic rocky peninsula, elevated from the mainland. It’s on the north-east coast of Scotland just outside of Stonehaven. The ruins of the castle are surrounded by steep cliffs that drop to the North Sea, 50 metres below. A narrow strip of land joins the headland to the mainland, along which a steep path leads up to the gatehouse. This dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland.castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

What is the history of Dunnottar Castle?

The surviving buildings of Dunnottar are largely of the 15th and 16th centuries, but the site is believed to have been fortified in the Early Middle Ages. For example, a pictish fort was built nearby in the 3rd century and in the following century a place of worship was constructed. Vikings attacked the castle in the 9th century and it was captured by William Wallace in the year 1276.

Dunnottar has played a prominent role in the history of Scotland through to the 18th-century Jacobite risings. This was primarily down to its strategic location and defensive strength. So much happened at Dunnottar Castle (its dedicated website makes an interesting read of chronological historical events) that it barely got time to rest. It was finally rescued from ruin in 1925.

Why does Dunnottar Castle appeal to tourists?

Dunnottar Castle, an isolated castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands, is an iconic tourist destination for visitors the world over. The rock that the castle sits on formed some 440 million years ago. That’s enough to bring anyone to an historic landmark in Scotland! Tourists visit Dunnottar Castle for their own unforgettable experience; there is so much to see and do here. Walk or cycle to the castle from the nearby tourist town of Stonehaven for a more picturesque route.

Special fact or feature of the castle

When you visit this special historic landmark you will soon discover the importance of Dunnottar. It is in simple form an invincible fortress that holds intense secrets of Scotland’s colourful past. Dunnottar is best known as the place where the Honours of Scotland- the Scottish crown jewels- were hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s army, which invaded it in the 17th century.

Why is this a great castle to visit whilst staying at Aldourie?

Dunnottar is not simply the ruins of a castle alone. And in that sense it’s much like that of a castle estate, like Aldourie. There a various buildings/structures within the walls of this castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands, including:castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands

Gatehouse and Benholm’s Lodging
Tunnels
Tower house
Forge
Waterton’s Lodging
Stables
Palace
Chapel
Postern gate
Whigs’ Vault
Bowling green
Sentry box

There’s so much more to the best historic castle ruins of the Scottish Highlands than initially meets the eye. And just like Aldourie Castle, no matter how much you read about them, nothing can compare to visiting them and being inside those castle walls. Each castle in Scotland has its own history, its own mysteries and its own charm. Step outside the luxuries of a private hire property in Scotland’s beloved Highlands and  experience the ghosts of Scotland’s past with a visit to these top three castle ruins.


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