Interested in visiting a medieval castle in Scotland? Here is our picks for the 10 best Scottish castles that date from the Middle Ages. These castles have largely remained the same since they were built in the Middle Ages. We have left out castles that are now in ruins, such Kildrummy Castle, and ones that have been substantially altered over the centuries.
See also our page on Top 10 Medieval Castles in England.
1. Eilean Donan
Originally built in the mid-13th century, Eilean Donan stands on a small island in the northern Highlands. After being destroyed during a rebellion in 1719, the castle lied in ruins until the 20th century when it was restored (although not quite to how it looked in the Middle Ages). It is now considered one of the most iconic places in Scotland.
2. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle has been a major centre of royal power since the early 12th century. While the fortress has seen many new additions since the Middle Ages, several medieval buildings still exist, including St. Margaret’s Chapel.
3. Stirling Castle
While some parts of Stirling Castle dates from the 14th century, most of its medieval buildings come from the reign of James IV (1488–1513). The castle is a significant site for Scottish history, and has been besieged at least eight times.
4. Castle Stalker
A four-storey tower house that was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, this castle can be found on a small island on Loch Laich in western Scotland.
5. Castle Campbell
Originally known as Castle Gloom, it became one of the main keeps for Clan Campbell. The present-tower dates from around 1430 and was restored in the 20th century.
6. Blackness Castle
This 15th century castle can be found along the Firth of Forth on Scotland’s east coast. It’s unusual shape resembles that of a ship.
7. Doune Castle
Located in central Scotland, this castle was built by a son of King Robert II in the 14th century. It has seen few changes since the Middle Ages, and was featured in the film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.
8. Dunvegan Castle
Located on the Isle of Skye, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. The keep is made up from six separate buildings, some which date back to the medieval period.
9. Broughty Castle
Built around 1495, Broughty Castle has served as an important defensive position for eastern Scotland, and was even used during the Second World War. It now serves as a museum.
10. Smailholm Tower
Located along the borders between Scotland and England, Smailholm Tower was originally built in the first half of the 15th century. The 65-foot keep was restored in the 1980s and now is a tourist attraction.
Visitor information for these Scottish Castles
Eilean Donan – owned by the Conchra Charitable Trust
Edinburgh Castle – is operated by Historic Scotland
Stirling Castle – is operated by Historic Scotland
Castle Stalker – is privately owned and is open to tourists only a few weeks each year
Castle Campbell – is operated by Historic Scotland
Blackness Castle – is operated by Historic Scotland
Doune Castle – is operated by Historic Scotland
Dunvegan Castle – is still owned by the Clan MacLeod
Broughty Castle – is now operated by Dundee City Council
Smailholm Tower – is operated by Historic Scotland