CLIMBING the walls? Feeling like your home is more your prison than your castle? One of the best fixes for that is to take your eyes, and your imagination, to a real Scottish castle, through the books and films that feature them. For, let's face it there's nothing like some bloody history to help put your current woes in perspective. And, though the museums and historic buildings, may be closed, their images are still out there. Take a look at some of these.

Where for dark, dank atmosphere

Blackness Castle, which, with its brutal walls and bare stone floors, stands in for Holyrood Palace in the film Mary Queen Of Scots. Production designer, James Merifield, has described why Blackness was chosen: "We discovered a castle near Edinburgh called Blackness Castle which evoked everything we wanted to achieve with Mary’s world. As she arrives at the castle in the you’re aware of a mass of rock in the interior – the castle walls appear to grow out of the rock face. This enthused me to build the castle interior in the same vein with a dark and dank quality, the rock morphing into architecture."

Where for imaginary horse riding

Don’t forget your coconuts as you clop off to Doune Castle courtesy of Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Picture yourself as King Arthur coming through the mists, horseless, with your trusty servant, Patsy, playing out the sound of horse hooves upon them. Perhaps, if you are lucky enough to be in lockdown with a fellow human being, you can make them your Patsy. Through this film, we can be reminded that, even before lockdown, people have been forced to make do with their imaginations. And also that, long before Twitter, there were good insults. One such classic being, "I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.”

Best for time travellers

Doune Castle again, only this time with plenty of horses, up to their fetlocks in mud. The building was used as a stand in for Castle Leoch, seat of the Clan Mackenzie, in Outlander. If you want a good snoop around it, try episode 2 of the first series, which is titled simply Castle Leoch. Watch if you are dreaming of a far off lover, in a castle made more distant by lockdown. As Jamie Fraser would say, “Does it ever stop? The wanting you? Even when I’ve just left ye. I want you so much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache with wanting to touch ye again.”

Watch Outlander, also, if you want to catch some other castles. For Doune is not the only one the show features. You might also like to look out for Lallybroch, the home of the Frasers, filmed in Midhope Tower, a 16th-century tower house located in Abercorn near South Queensferry.

Where to go for DIY inspiration

Blair Castle happens to have created an online 360 degree tour of its grounds and interiors, which allows you to do a full snoop around. It really is like having the keys to the castle. Click on the front door and you find yourself inside the entrance hall, you can discover how a few rifles and shields on the wall can jazz up a bit of wood panelling. Look up and you can also check out some impressive and advanced cornicing, which is probably best not attempted by the amateur.

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Where to go for an online rammy

The tension has been high over the past few weeks in the Historic Scotland #ClashOfTheCastles social media vote. Which of Scotland's many iconic castles will win out? The quarter finals saw Blackness Castle scrap it out against Dirleton, Urquhart Castle compete Kilchurn Castle, and a few other difficult face-offs, but also some lovely castle sharing online.

Where for immortal warriors

There can be only one. Eilean Donan as seen through Highlander. It’s this year of our lord, 1536, and the Clan Macleod, including Christopher Lambert, are riding out to battle. “Are you scared, Connor?” one of his companions says. “No cousin, Dougal, I’m not,” replies Lambert. “Don’t talk nonsense,” his cousin laughs. “I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.”

Worth rewatching for Christoph Lambert’s woeful Scottish accent, one of the worst in cinematic history, its wonderful ludicrous plot, and this glimpse of Eilean Dolan. The castle is said to be one of the most-photographed in Scotland so it’s no suprirse that it features in other films. Find it in the The Master Of Ballantrae, starring Errol Flynn, and also the Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough, where it’s the surprising home to the MI6 headquarters.

Where to go to risk never coming back again

"Welcome to my house!" says Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's classic novel. "Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!" Slain’s Castle, perched on the cliffs at Cruden Bay, is said to have been the inspiration behind Dracula's disorientating Transylvanian home. Stoker, who visited Cruden Bay regularly over 17 years in the 19th century, describes it thus in his book, “A vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light and, and whose broken showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.”

Where to go just to be – or not to be

Dunottar. The ruined hill-top fortress on the coast near Stonehaven was a stand-in for Elsinore, home of the Danish prince in Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet. Even the images of the film are thrilling castle porn. Dunnottar, of course, has its own claims to fame – it was, for instance, where the Scottish crown jewels, were hidden from Oliver Cromwell's invading army in the 17th century – but here it’s the backdrop for the burial of Ophelia. It’s also where, in the more recent movie, Victor Frankenstein, the scientist goes to create one of his crazed experiments.

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Where for a pan-Scotland tour

If you want a proper romp through as many of Scotland’s iconic castles as possible in a few hours, then it’s possible to find Castles Of Scotland, streaming on the STV Player. “Man’s inability to live with his neighbours,” says the narrator, “has driven him to build defensive structures. Nowhere in the world is this more apparent than in Scotland. The landscape is covered with buildings that tell tales of treachery, romance, war and peace.”

Where to go for damsels

All right, it’s not really so much about damsels, or even castles, as damselflies, but the Natural Trust For Scotland have a rather lovely film about these magical insects at Castle Fraser. Watch at

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