Scotland has been a source of inspiration for art, plays and poems for centuries.

Thousands of tourists flock to our shores each year to learn about the country's bloody, wartorn history; full of hard-won victories, lost battles and legendary tales that have wound themselves deep into our country's colourful heritage. With sci-fi drama Outlander reportedly bringing in 30% more visitors to Scotland, we've picked ten of the greatest castles that will capture the hearts and minds of Outlander fans; each with their own story.

Doune Castle

This castle sitting in the south east of the village Doune in Stirlingshire was a medieval stronghold built in the late 14th century; often described as a labyrinth of intertwining passages and spiral staircases, with a 100 ft tall gatehouse, a grand Duke's hall and a fantastic view of the battlements and fast-flowing River Teith. It was used as the prime location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, featuring in Outlander as its fictional Castle Leoch and it was also the backdrop for the city of Winterfell in Game of Thrones.

Aberdour Castles and Gardens

Aberdour Castle is one of the oldest castles in Scotland, with parts of the complex dating back to the 1200s when it was first built by the de Mortimer family. There is a walled garden in its grounds, a quaint beehive shaped dovecote where they keep pigeons and a fine painted ceiling on the castle's roof which dates back to the 1600s. The landmarkfeatures in episode sixteen of Outlander as a monastery, where Claire takes Jamie to nurse him back to health.

Eilean Donan

Sitting on an island in the Highlands at a point where the lochs Duich, Alsh and Long meet is Eilean Donan, named after a saint that was martyred in 614 AD, and remains one of the most visited attractions in Scotland due to its magnificent scenery. After being blown up in battle during the Jacobite uprising in 1719, it lay in ruins for 200 years. The island was eventually bought by Lieutenant John-Macrae Milstrap in 1911, who devoted the next twenty years restoring the castle to its former glory.


Craigievar is a pink-tinged fairytale style building twenty miles south of Inverurie, and is said to have inspired Walt Disney's creation of his own castle. Craigievar is widely recognised as one of the best examples of Baronial architecture in the country - featuring turrets, a high tower, cupolas and corbelling with some Jacobean woodwork and a collection of family portraits. It also has beautiful furniture to this day, including the Craigievar table. The castle is also said to be haunted by 'Red' Sir John, the grandson of William Forbes, who bought the castle in 1610. He was known for his ginger hair and violent temper, which surfaced when he discovered that his daughter had fallen in love with the son of the enemy clan, Gordon. One night the boy came to call on his sweetheart and climbed to the Blue Room on the fourth floor. As he reached the window he was met by Sir John, who brandished a sword to his throat, forcing the boy to leap to his death. It is said that Sir John's footsteps can still be heard crossing the Blue Room to the window behind the bed to watch for intruders.

Blackness Castle

Aptly named Blackness Castle, this ship-shaped formidable fortress looming over the Firth of Forth was intended to look stately, intimidating and ultimately built for war in the 15th century. Its brutalist architecture lying in stark contrast to the charming Italian masonry of the other castles on this list; serving as an ammunitions depot, a garrison stronghold and a prison for foreign sailors and soldiers during battle. Described as 'the ship that never sailed' due to its pointed position on the river, the towers are named 'stem' and 'stern,' the central tower named the 'mast.' The prison tower is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a knight in full armour, and many visitors have told that they experience a feeling of dread as they walk through the castle's winding passages. Looking at its bloody history, it's a small wonder...

Edinburgh Castle

While this is probably an obvious choice, it is undeniably for good reason. Scotland's most famous castle is perched on top of a tall volcanic crag which erupted 350 million years ago, towering over the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens below with a fantastic panoramic view of the city from its ramparts. It is also home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, and the coronation stone also known as the 'Stone of Destiny' when it was returned to Scotland on St Andrew's Day in 1996.

Glamis Castle

This Angus monument is the ancient seat of the Earls of Strathmore and the setting for Shakespeare's play Macbeth - also known as the most haunted castle in Britain. It is said that the famous Grey Lady ghost wanders the hallways, apparently the late Lady Glamis who was burnt at the stake for being a witch in 1537. Behind the sixteen foot thick walls there is also a room of skulls, where the Ogilvie family were taken and left to starve when hiding from their enemy, the Lindsay clan. If that doesn't creep you out enough, there was said to be a 'Monster of Glamis' living in the castle; a deformed child born into the family that was hidden away in their own wing of rooms their whole life. When they died, the area was allegedly bricked over by the family. It is said that if you count the number of windows from the outside, and compare it with the number on the inside, there are two less windows; more or less confirming the ancient rumours of secret chambers.

Urquhart Castle

On the banks of Loch Ness lie the ruins of Urquhart Castle, Historic Scotland's third most visited site after Edinburgh and Stirling Castle. Built in the 13th century, the landmark has overseen some of the most pivotal chapters in our country's heritage, including the First and Second Wars of Scottish Independence. After being raided multiple times by enemy clans, it was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent the Jacobites using it in battle, and it was left to decay for years after. Though much of its structure has been left to rubble, its rugged charm on the coast of Loch Ness evokes the spirits of Scotland's struggle throughout history.

Stirling Castle

Much like its Edinburgh peer, Stirling is a centrepiece in Scotland's bloody, chequered past, looming over the city surrounded by cliffs on an extinct volcano. It was a favoured residence for Stewart kings and queens during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Mary Queen of Scots grew up in the castle and was also coronated in the Chapel Royal in 1543. It was the perfect home for Scots Royals in Medieval times, with its lush courtyard gardens and sublime Renaissance architecture - some of which is still in place today. The Stirling Heads, a collection of over 100 grotesque wooden carvings on the ceiling of the King's Presence chamber, are a true sight to behold.

Linlithgow Palace

Fifteen miles outside Edinburgh lies what remains of Linlithgow Palace, a royal retreat for Scottish kings and queens until it was burned out in 1746 - with the earliest reference to it as far back as 1301. The building overlooks the loch, the countryside and an ornate fountain in the courtyard, which was said to be flowing with wine when Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived at there in 1745. It is said to be haunted by the spirit of Mary of Guise; who gave birth to Mary Queen of Scots there in 1542.