Castles in the area of Inverness are scattered all over the region, and some are even centuries old. Read on to explore these castles and what they can offer.
The Garden Castle of Strathpeffer was founded in 1774 by Alexander Gordon, the third Earl of Aberdeen. The castle has beautifully manicured gardens which can be enjoyed with a visitor’s ticket along with exhibitions about its history and gardens.
Plodda Castle is a 17th century castle which sits on the east bank of Loch Ness in Tomnadashan, approximately 5 miles southwest of Inverness. It is a private home and is not open to visitors.
The Culloden Memorial Centre was built at the site of the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Major Charles Stewart led the charge with his regiment, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, and died in battle. The building was designed by John Adam and completed in 1830 to commemorate the fallen warriors from both sides. Visitors can climb to the very top floor where there is an exhibition showing what happened on April 16, 1746.
Dunan Castle lies on the west shore of Loch Ness near Inverness. The castle is said to have been built in 1495, but nothing remains of it as it burned down in 1766. The ruins can be seen and a visitor’s centre has been built nearby.
The ancient Castle Urquhart was the seat of Clan Urquhart for centuries until the structure was demolished in 1792 by its owner, Sir John Urquhart , who had become bankrupt. In 1925, a new castle was built at Kilcricket on the property and over 40 years later it was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland. Today, it is a popular tourist destination.
Castle Varrich at Knockderry, sits on the southern shore of Loch Ness in an area known as The Great Glen. It features a unique tower house which dates back to the 14th century. The castle has been described by Historic Scotland as one of the gems of the Great Glen and has been in private ownership for almost 70 years.
Castle Leod was built circa 1740 and was owned by the MacDonalds from 1836 until 1911 when it was sold to James Sellar, who was then responsible for destroying it and using the stone to build his Castle House of Inverness. The ruins are now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
MacDuff’s Castle was built in the early 14th century by the Earl of Fife, who was then later burned out from a feud with other clans in the area. It was inhabited for several centuries. The castle is located in Cullicudden and is currently privately owned.
Castle of Mey is a private residence which was once owned by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of “Treasure Island”. The castle has been property of Clan Munro since 1611 when it was passed down from Patrick, Lord of Fowlis. The building is located in the village of Mey and is currently owned by Simon Forbes.
Inverallochy Castle was built in 1766 by Samuel Telfer, an Aberdeen merchant, who was also a Lord of Session and a Senator of the College of Justice. The castle was passed down to his son James, who created the gardens that surround the property. The family sold it to Lord and Lady Elphinstone in 1956, but it was sold again in 2011 for £400 000 after being on the market for many years.
Morangie Castle is another privately owned home which is located just south of Inverness on Loch Morar. It features three separate wings that date back to the 15th century.
Castle Tioram is a 13th century castle located near Gairloch in Wester Ross. The battlements have been restored and can be visited today.
Fyvie Castle has been home to the Forbes family since it was built in the late 15th century. The castle was passed down through the generations, but was sold by the last owner, Ian Forbes-Sempill in 1984 for £1.1 million to William Wallace Menzies who has owned it ever since. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and is often used for weddings and other events because of its beautiful gardens and its popularity with tourists looking for an authentic Scottish experience. The castle offers regular tours of its interior to visitors.
Elgin Castle dates back to the early 12th century. It was owned by the Comyns until it was passed down to John Balliol in 1292, who was King of Scotland until he was deposed by Edward I of England. The castle stopped being used as a residence and fell into disrepair over the centuries. Today, the ruins are accessible and there is information about its history available for visitors.
Balmoral Castle is the royal retreat when Queen Elizabeth II is staying in Scotland. It lies 8 miles from Aberdeenshire on the east bank of the River Dee. The castle is an example of Victorian architecture and features over 300 rooms.
Castle Fraser lies on the Great North Road near Inverness and was built in 1530 by James Fraser, first Lord Lovat for Clan Fraser. In 1690, it was sold to Sir Simon Frazer who then turned it into a family home. The current owners have added an extra wing with four bedrooms to the castle which was previously only a two-bedroom 17th century structure. It can now accommodate up to 12 guests at a time. There are five acres of garden and woodland conservation area.
Drum Castle is located near Inverness and was built in the early 18th century by Hugh Fraser, Lord Lovat. It was one of the first castles to be built with a round tower and features a large granite fireplace which is surrounded by carved oak and bears the crest of Clan Fraser. The castle is now privately owned.
Inveraray Castle was designed in 1742 by William Adam with further extensive additions made during the 19th century. The castle still serves as a family home for the Duke of Argyll today.
Cart Castle is a 15th-century tower house that was built on a sandy promontory overlooking Loch Fyne in Inverary. The castle, which is privately owned, was acquired by the Campbell Clan who have been the Earls of Argyll since 1493.
Sievey Tower is a 15th-century tower house that sits on the eastern shore of Loch Awe in Scotland’s home county of Argyll. The castle is privately owned and offers accommodation to visitors who wish to explore the region at a more affordable price than what larger hotels charge. In addition to exploring the castle and grounds, guests can also enjoy fishing and water sports at nearby Glen Orchy lochs.