If you’re headed to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, it’s a good idea to explore some of the many castles in and around this UNESCO World Heritage Site. From an impressive medieval fortress on an island in the middle of a loch to a castle with various tours, there is something for everyone whether you are interested in history or just looking for a visit with plenty of family-friendly activities.
Today we’ll take you through several different castles that are worth visiting while you’re touring Edinburgh: Lauriston Castle, Skerryvore Castle, Tantallon Castle, Craigmillar Castle and of course Edinburgh Castle itself.
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Lauriston Castle is one of the most significant historical attractions in Edinburgh, Scotland. The original castle was a 16th-century L-plan design with two square towers and a courtyard. Lauriston Castle was originally built for Sir Alexander Livingston, Lord Treasurer of Scotland from 1617 to 1645. In 1814, following many years of neglect and deterioration, the historic Lauriston house was demolished and work began on the new building which was completed in 1829. Lauriston Castle has been occupied by members of the Livingston family since it was first built three centuries ago. A formal garden was added in the late 19th century, when the entrance arches were built.
The new castle incorporated several original features from the former building, including some of the original stonework such as the windows, and also a small spiral staircase. The Great Hall has pierced vaulted ceilings and bears the coat of arms of Alexander Livingston, Lord President of the Court of Session, who built Lauriston Castle in 1635. Lauriston Castle is situated in a parkland estate on a prominent site above Edinburgh’s Corstorphine Hill.
Skerryvore Castle is one of those “wow” places that makes your jaw drop when you first set eyes upon it. Built at a strategic location in the middle of Loch Carron, this castle was built in 1848 for one purpose: to protect boats transporting goods from the Outer Hebrides. It was home to the chief lighthouse keeper until 1898, when it was abandoned. The structure is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is now open for tours.
If you are a history buff and want to see where the lighthouse keepers lived, this is your place. There are many original fixtures and fittings still inside the castle dating back to this time period. It also offers spectacular views of the surrounding sea if you are staying in a nearby B&B or have rented an Edinburgh holiday rental. You can tour Skerryvore or rent it out for weddings and special occasions by contacting Historic Environment Scotland directly at 0300 123 6789 or visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.
Tantallon Castle is one of Scotland’s most well-known castles and a favorite for many tourists visiting Edinburgh. Sitting atop a cliff overlooking the North Sea, it was not an easy task to build this castle in 1391. It took around 1500 labourers over 5 years to build it up against this cliff face.
Today, visitors can tour this impressive castle and stay overnight in one of the 2 apartments inside. There are also three restaurants where you can eat (and drink) like a king.
If you plan to visit Tantallon Castle, be sure to book ahead because it is often booked up months in advance. You can book your tour or stay at www.tantalloncastle.com or by calling +44 131 668 2013.
Craigmilllar Castle was built after the English Wars of Independence and is a rare survival of a Scots tower house that was built in the 15th century. It was originally built of wood, but was later replaced with granite in the 16th century. The castle is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open for tours.
This castle offers a number of special events throughout the year, including a Christmas Market and Medieval Banquet that are fun for the whole family. You can visit Craigmillar Castle at various times during the year: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/property/places/craigmillar-castle/?lang=en
Edinburgh Castle, which sits on top of the city’s highest natural point, provides unrivaled views over the capital of Scotland. It is an iconic symbol not only for the city but for Scotland as a whole. This article will go through its history and secrets.
Edinburgh Castle has been in use since its construction in the second half of the 12th century. Its history is a fascinating mix of medieval crag-top fortress and Victorian military citadel – it has been attacked 22 times and besieged twice during its long life. Nowadays it is both a popular tourist attraction as well as continuing to fulfil its role as the home for various ceremonial functions of state. In the coming year or so the castle should see work begin on a major renovation programme, including a variety of new displays which aim to showcase its history in more detail than ever before.
The earliest recorded royal residence on Edinburgh Castle’s site is from 1124, when King David I (incorrectly named ‘the Saint’) moved his court from Scone to Edinburgh, and established it within the fortress.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It is located at the end of the Royal Mile, adjacent to Holyrood Abbey. The palace has been continuously used by monarchs since 1501 when King James IV first moved from the castle of Edinburgh Castle.
The Palace was not always called ‘Holyroodhouse’. It was originally named ‘New Town House’, and then became ‘Carlton House’ after being sold to Sir David Carlton in 1611, before becoming named Newington House or Newtown House. The name ‘Holyrood’ came from a nearby chapel, named Holyrood (then spelt ‘Haly Rood’), which had been founded by David I in 1128.
The name of the palace was changed to Holyrood Palace when James VI ascended the throne in 1603. The building has been modified many times since then. It was used as a royal residence until the Act of Union took effect in 1707, after which it was used by the Government of Great Britain as offices for ministers. The building then became known as Parliament House, until it was destroyed by fire in 1834. After this fire a competition was held to design a replacement building for Parliament and there were over 100 entries.
Dundas Castle was built in the early 1800s (exact time unknown) as a border stronghold. It was responsible for keeping out invaders from England. The castle was originally owned by a family by the name of Dundas. The original version had two floors, but it was destroyed in 1941. However, in 1952, the castle (known then as the Glasgow Castle) was rebuilt to three stories and became a popular resort for many people in Scotland. It included an inn and ballroom, and it also served as a wedding hall until 1970. The castle is still used today for events such as medieval fairs and weddings.
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