Standing Stones and Steely Swords: A History Buff’s Guide to Scottish Castles with Author Gerri Russell

Scotland’s dramatic landscape is dotted with brooding castles, silent sentinels whispering tales of battles, intrigue, and Highland lairds. For history buffs, these castles are more than stone and mortar; they’re tangible links to a bygone era. So, lace up your walking boots and grab your sporran (or a sturdy backpack!), because we’re delving into some of Scotland’s most fascinating castles:

  1. Stirling Castle: The Key to the Kingdom:

Panoramic view of Stirling Castle in Stirling-shire, Scotland. Taken in Stirling, Scotland on June 5, 2013Nicknamed “The Gateway to the Highlands,” Stirling Castle has witnessed pivotal moments in Scottish history. Climb the volcanic rock upon which it stands and explore the Great Hall, where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned. Stirling witnessed battles for Scottish independence, including William Wallace’s famous victory at Stirling Bridge. Don’t miss the intricate ceiling decorations and the poignant Hunting Tapestries depicting scenes from the royal hunt.


  1. Edinburgh Castle: A Fortress Fit for Royalty:

Edinburgh, Scotland - January 22nd 2024: The front of Edinburgh Castle on a sunny dayTowering over Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit. Explore the Scottish National War Museum and delve into Scotland’s military past. Marvel at the crown jewels – the Honours of Scotland – some of the oldest surviving crown jewels in Europe. Be sure to climb Mons Meg, a colossal siege cannon, and learn about its (somewhat dubious) history.



  1. Eilean Donan Castle: A Picture-Perfect Fortress:

Eilean Donan Castle, perched on a tiny island where three lochs meet, is a vision of storybook romance. Originally built in the 13th century, it was restored in the early 20th century and has become an iconic symbol of Scotland. Explore its winding staircases, secret passages, and ramparts, and soak in the breathtaking views.



  1. Glamis Castle: The Haunt of Macbeth (and More):

Glamis, United Kingdom - August 17,2014: View of Glamis Castle in Scotland, United Kingdom. Glamis Castle is situated beside the village of Glamis in Angus. It is the home of the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and is open to public.Glamis Castle, a stunning example of Scottish Renaissance architecture, is steeped in legend and lore. Shakespearean fans will recognize it as the inspiration for Macbeth’s dark and bloody castle. Step back in time with a tour showcasing the opulent drawing rooms, the mysterious “Monster Room” (said to be haunted), and the beautiful gardens.



  1. Urquhart Castle: A Loch Ness Legend:

famous Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness in ScotlandNo exploration of Scottish castles is complete without a visit to Urquhart Castle, dramatically overlooking the legendary Loch Ness. This brooding ruin has been a strategic stronghold for centuries, guarding this gateway to the Highlands. Explore the Great Hall, dungeons, and towers, and keep your eyes peeled for Nessie while you’re there!



  1. Dunvegan Castle: Home to the Legendary Fairy Flag:

Coast near Dunvegan Castle with mountains on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.Dunvegan Castle, located on a rocky outcrop overlooking Loch Dunvegan, is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and the seat of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years, and the setting for the Guardians of the Isles series. Explore the Fairy Flag, a mystical banner believed to bring victory in battle, and immerse yourself in the castle’s rich history as you explore the many rooms. Make sure to wander through the beautiful Dunvegan Castle Gardens as well.


This is just a taste of the incredible castles Scotland has to offer. So, if you are planning a trip to Scotland, get ready to be transported back in time amidst these magnificent fortresses.

Do you have a favorite castle?

About the Author.

Gerri Russell is the award-winning author of historical and contemporary novels including the Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series and Flirting with Felicity. A two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and winner of the American Title II competition sponsored by RT Book Reviews magazine, she is best known for her adventurous and emotionally intense novels set in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Scottish Highlands. Before Gerri followed her passion for writing romance novels, she worked as a broadcast journalist, a newspaper reporter, a magazine columnist, a technical writer and editor, and an instructional designer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four mischievous black cats.


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