Ruined Castles In Scotland – Ultimate Guide

In todays post, were heading up north on the look out for ruined castles in Scotland.

This is an ultimate guide so it’s crammed with castle ruins in Scotland – that way you can pick and choose or even visit them all!

There’s no shortage of castle ruins in Scotland. It’s believed that there was once over 2000 castles here!

Before we dive into the list, let’s quickly understand what castle ruins are.

Essentially, they are the remains of a once magnificent castle! Many castles were damaged beyond repair during battle but they were also sometimes abandoned and left to ‘rot away’ – but we still get to admire what’s left of them.

Ruined Castles In Scotland - The Ultimate Guide

Ruined Castles In Aberdeenshire

We’ll start in Aberdeenshire in the North East of Scotland. It spans a large area with rolling hills and tremendous mountains so it’s no wonder you can find the odd castle.

Boddam Castle Ruins

Boddam Castle is located just off Rocksley Drive in the south of Boddam town. The castle once occupied the top of a cliff and was a courtyard castle with ranges on all sides bar the east.

The gatehouse is the most prominent of the ruins – everything else is pretty much gone.

The spence family were the original owners of the castle back in the mid 1400’s.

Cowie Castle Ruins

It’s said that Cowie Castle used to be a royal hunting castle built in the north of Stonehaven.

Today, only a very small section of the castle remains – this is in the form of masonry and is now a scheduled monument.

Dundarg Castle Ruins

Dundarg Castle was built way back in the 14th century and occupied a clifftop position upon the Moray Firth coast. Because the remains of this castle sit behind a privately owned house and garden, you must first seek permission before trying to access the site.

In the Iron Age, this castle was used as a fort. It’s last recorded use was within the 15th century.

Dunnottar Castle Ruins

Dunnottar Castle sits on top of a 160 foot tall rock that’s surrounded by the North Sea on three sides. Once an impregnable fortress of safety, now a photographers dream and an iconic tourist destination.

The castle has hosted some of Scotland’s greatest historical figures including Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace.

Dunnottar Castle Ruins In Scotland

Eden Castle Ruins

Eden Castle is near Banff and was built in the late 1600’s. The Meldrum family built the castle.

In its heyday, the castle was composed of a main block with two towers on opposing corners forming a z-plan towerhouse.

It is now classed as a scheduled monument.

Ellon Castle Ruins

The ruins of Ellon Castle are surrounded by historic gardens. These 16th century castle ruins are set in the heart of Ellon.

The gardens were some of the finest in Scotland back in the 19th century and contain ancient English Yew trees that are thought to have been alive for over 500 years!

Fedderate Castle Ruins

You’ll find Fedderate Castle near New Deer. It dates back to the mid 13th century and was built by the Crawford family who also extended it in the early 16th century.

It was accessed by a drawbridge and causeway and featured 30 foot tall walls. An attempt was made to blow the castle up before its historic designation and it’s current condition is a direct result of this.

Huntly Castle Ruins

Dating all the way back to the 13th century, we have Huntly Castle.

Upon the site, four castles have been built over time. The first was made using wood and the second, stone. The other castles to have been built were erected towards the south of the estate.

Inverallochy Castle Ruins

Inverallochy Castle was a courtyard style castle built in the early 1500’s. It sits slightly south of Cairnbulg Castle and is often described as one of the nine castles of the Knuckle.

Among the ruins, an almost full height tower still remains but most of the internal walls are gone.

Kildrummy Castle Ruins

Once the seat of Earls of Mar, Kildrummy Castle is now owned by Historic Environment Scotland and classed as a scheduled ancient monument.

Although classed as Scottish castle ruins, this 14th century castle was one of the most extensive within eastern Scotland to have survived.

Old Slains Castle Ruins

Also referred to as Slains Castle, Old Slains Castle sits near Collieston and shouldn’t be confused with New Slains Castle. It was partially destroyed in 1594 by King James VI.

The remains today are mostly made up of two walls that meet at a corner which managed to survive the attacks in the past.

Pitsligo Castle Ruins

Pitsligo Castle is another of the nine castles of the Knuckle and can now be classed as 15th century castle ruins.

It has a rich history including starting life as a keep and being destroyed by Flemish troops in 1845.

New Slains Castle Ruins

We have another Slains Castle! However, this one is known as New Slains Castle and is not to far from Old Slains Castle.

Overlooking the North Sea, it was built on a clifftop and used to have three extensive gardens. It was set to be restored but the plans were put on hold in 2009 and nothing has happened since.

Ruined Castles In Argyll And Bute

But wait, there’s more! Now we go over to Argyll and Bute to check out even more ruined castles.

Aros Castle Ruins

Aros Castle was built in the 13th century and also goes by the name of Dounarwyse Castle. It is based on the Isle of Mull near Salen and is overlooking the Sound of Mull.

It is thought that a MacDougall Lord of Lorn built the castle and was once a stronghold on the Lord of the Isles. The land surrounding the castle are easily defensible making it the perfect location.

Carnasserie Castle Ruins

Today, Carnasserie Castle stands as a ruin without its roof. Back in its heyday, it incorporated influences from the Renaissance and was a fashionable residence.

It was built in the 16th century with minor alterations being carried out in the 17th century. It’s unusual layout is often one of the talking points when this castle comes to mind.

Dunans Castle Ruins

You can become a Lady or Laird of Dunans Castle in Scotland. We’re not joking! You simply need to purchase a Dunans Castle Lord Title to reap the benefits (notably you get a square foot of the castle to yourself and lifetime access to its grounds).

It’s owned by Charles and Sadie Dixon-Spain who run the Laird or Lady scheme in order to fund the castles restoration since it was ruined by fire back in 2001.

Dundonald Castle Ruins

One of Scotland’s hidden gems – Dundonald Castle in South Ayrshire.

It’s a 14th century castle best described as a medieval towerhouse. There is a visitor centre here as well as a historical exhibition featuring the rich history of the castle.

These impressive ruins have also been a part of the biggest day in some couples lives – would you fancy a Dundonald Castle wedding?

Dunollie Castle Ruins

Just north of Oban you’ll find Dunollie Castle. What it lacks in size, it makes up for with views over to the island of Kerrera.

Thanks to the Dunollie Museum, the castle and grounds are open to the public. This is a really old castle – back in 686, 698 and 701 it came under attack or burned down!

Dunoon Castle Ruins

in the 1650’s, Dunoon Castle was abandoned and by the time the 19th century came around, there wasn’t much left of it.

It sits on top of a cone shaped hill that’s about 80 feet tall and was first recorded back in the 13th century. In the 14th century it became the residence to royalty before falling into ruin in the 17th century.

Make sure to visit the Dunoon Castle House Museum where you can discover what it was like back in the Victorian era.

Dunyvaig Castle Ruins

On the shore of Lagavulin Bay is where you’ll find the ruins of Dunyvaig Castle. The Lord of the Isles once used it as a naval base.

King of the Isles, Somerled, built the castle in the 12th century. In 1989, it was designated as a scheduled monument and if you visit today you’ll be able to see a courtyard from the 13th century and a keep from the 15th century.

Finlaggan Castle Ruins

Two walls still stand fairly tall at the site of Finlaggan Castle ruins. It is surround by water as it sits on the isle of Eilean Mór on Loch Finlaggan.

In 2019, virtual reality was used by experts at the University of St Andrews to recreate the medieval home of the Lord of the Isles.

Kilchurn Castle Ruins

Kilchurn Castle is on of Scotland’s most photographed castles – most likely due to it’s stature even though it’s in ruins. The scenery surrounding the castle gives further reason for photographers to visit.

It contains the oldest surviving barracks on the British mainland and was built way back in the 1400’s. By the time the 1700s rolled around, the castle had been abandoned.

For the best view, you need to access the Kilchurn Castle viewpoint. This is located just off the A819. There’s a small car park where you can leave the car and cross the field to get even closer.

Kilchurn Castle Ruins In Scotland

Rothesay Castle Ruins

In Rothesay, the Isle of Bute’s largest town, you’ll find the spectacular Rothesay Castle. It dates back to the early 13th century and, despite it’s age, is very well preserved.

It was originally built to withstand attacks from Norwegian fleets that were once invading.

Tarbert Castle Ruins

In the middles ages, Tarbert Castle was just one of the three castle at Tarbert. It was used as a strategic royal stronghold.

It’s located in the north of Kintyre and overlooks the harbour. It’s tower dates back to the year 1494.

Ruined Castles In The Scottish Borders

Castle ruins are aplenty in Scotland, but what about the Scottish Borders?

Bonkyll Castle Ruins

There’s really not a lot left to see of Bonkyll Castle (also known as Bunkle Castle), but it’s still worth a visit if you’re in the area.

It was once a medieval fortress and sits 4 miles north of Duns. Originally belonging to the Bonkyl family, it was passed on by marriage to Sir John Stewart in the late 13th century.

Horsburgh Castle Ruins

Also known as Horsbrugh Castle or Horsbrugh Tower, Horsburgh Castle sits near the River Tweed just outside of Peebles. It came to be in the 16th century, built by the Horsburghs.

It sits on a prominent hill which would have once been a strategic position. Today, only part of the shell remains to exist – the walls are made of whinstone rubble.

Polwarth Castle Ruins

No one knows exactly when Polwarth Castle was built. If you manage to come across the site (located between the church and the village of Polwarth), you won’t find any remains.

Although there are no records relating to the details of the castle, the site was marked by a clump of fir trees in the late 19th century.

Ruined Castles In East Lothian

East Lothian is an area of Scotland to the East of Edinburgh. The A1 runs almost through the middle and there’s a couple of castle ruins were going to talk about.

Auldhame Castle Ruins

Auldhame Castle was once an L shaped tower house stood on a ridge above Seacliff beach. Today, it’s ruins are a sight to behold.

It can be reach on foot from the beach and why it fell in to ruin is still a mystery.

Yester Castle Ruins

Sitting southeast of Gifford village is Yester Castle – a ruined castle where only the subterranean structure of the Goblin Ha’ or Hobgoblin Ha’ completely remains.

Hugo de Gifford built the castle in the 13th century and he was nicknamed the ‘Wizard of Yester’ by the locals at the time. He was said to use the subterranean hall for rituals.

To reach the hall, you’ll need to go down the cramped staircase that leads directly to it. It’s pretty dark down there so make sure you take a torch!

Ruined Castles In Falkirk

We’re in Falkirk now to speak about one castle in particular.

Torwood Castle Ruins

Torwood Castle is another L shaped castle to add to our list and was built around the 16th century.

It sits surrounded by countryside but is not open to the public. Over a recent period of time, several people have attempted to restore the castle to its former glory.

The Forrester family held the castle until the middle of the 17th century. After this, nobody really knows what happened to it. It was only in 1946 when a man named Gordon MacLachlan Millar purchased the castle and spent 50 years of his life attempting to restore it.

Ruined Castles In Fife

We head to Fife next, a peninsula north of Edinburgh.

Ballinbreich Castle Ruins

Built in the 14th century by Clan Leslie lies the ruined tower house of Ballinbreich Castle.

It’s in a wooded location near the River Tay and the lands were once held by the Abernathy family.

Newark Castle Ruins

At Newark Castle, you’ll see beautiful ruins stood in a dramatic location on cliffs overlooking the sea. Most of the upper stories are completely ruined but the vaulted cellars below still survive.

It is though that the castle was built around the 13th century and that the Scottish king Alexander III spent part of his childhood there.

It is also known by some other names – St Monans, St Monance and Inverie.

Ravenscraig Castle Ruins

Impressive ruins featuring a bridge that leads under an arched entrance await you at Ravenscraig Castle.

It was originally built as a royal residence before shortly afterwards being granted to the Sinclair family.

St Andrews Castle Ruins

If you’re an avid golfer, you’ll already be aware of St Andrews in Scotland. But you might not be as familiar with St Andrews Castle.

It’s a ruined 13th century castle featuring secret tunnels and a dungeon. It sits on a headland and the ‘bottle dungeon’ was cut out of the solid rock.

Ruined Castles In Highland

The highlands of Scotland are vast with Mountains all over the place. Loch Ness sits at its centre.

Borve Castle Ruins

Borve Castle was built by Amy MacRuairi between 1344 and 1363 and was abandoned by the Clanranald during the 1715 Jacobite Rising.

The only visible parts of the ruins these days are the two upper floors. The loch within which it used to sit has since been filled with wind blow sand.

Dingwall Castle Ruins

Set in eastern Ross-shire is Dingwall Castle. Norse settlers are believed to have established the castle within the 11th century.

To this day, a tunnel that connects this castle to the basement of Tulloch Castle still exists. However, it has collapsed for the main part but you can still view the passageway if you visit Tulloch Castle.

Dunscaith Castle Ruins

Very little of Dunscaith Castle remains in the modern day. You can expect to see the arches of what was once the drawbridge, the entrance stairway and parts of the curtain wall of the castle.

It sits on a 40 foot tall rock looking out over the water on the coast of the Isle of Skye.

Fairburn Tower Ruins

Near Inverness, you’ll find the ruined Fairburn Tower. It is believed that it was built for Murdo Mackenzie in 1545.

In 1803, a gale blew off the oak shingle roof. This was shortly after its abandonment around the year 1780.

Keiss Castle Ruins

Keiss Castle sits on an idyllic spot. Sheer cliffs sit below the partially ruined castle.

Unfortunately, you cannot visit these ruins due to how close it sits to the cliff edge and its current state. But you can view it from a distance and this is certainly worth it (photographers will love this one).

Mingary Castle Ruins

Set in a remote part of the highlands sits the 13th century castle of Mingary (also known as Mingarry Castle).

It’s roughly hexagonal in shape and sits atop a rock overlooking the sea. It is a category A listed building and is protected as such.

Rait Castle Ruins

Rait castle was built just south of Nairn and is presumed to have started life around the 13th century.

It was a two storey building featuring an upper hall and unvaulted basement. It measured around 20 metres by 10 metres and had a tower on one corner.

Redcastle Ruins

Impressive ruins can be seen when you visit Redcastle. It can be reached by driving on the A832 towards Muir of Ord. Once you reach Fettes Sawmill, you’ll shortly afterwards reach a single track road on your left.

You’ll need to find somewhere relatively close to the castle to park before making the rest of the journey on foot. The castle has somewhat been taken back by mother nature with entire tree trunks reaching out of windows.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe Ruins

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe sits directly on the cliff edge overlooking the sea. It is now possible for the public to visit and take in the views from this tremendous area.

It has been uninhabited since 1690 but plenty of this castle has survived the test of time including it’s huge tower gate that was built way back in the 14th century.

Skelbo Castle Ruins

The ruined 14th century keep of Skelbo Castle sits near Dornoch in Sutherland.

Dating back to the early 13th century, all that remains of the castle now are the crumbing walls of the strong keep, parts of the curtain wall and a rubble covered courtyard.

Strome Castle Ruins

Only some of the walls of Strome Castle survive today.

Back in its heyday, it changed hands numerous times. The Mackenzies ended up blowing up the castle and what’s left today is because of this.

Thurso Castle Ruins

Thurso Castle is more modern than many others seeing as it was built in the 19th century and shortly after in 1952, it was demolished.

In 1877, Ulysses S. Grant (a former United States President) visited the castle during his world tour.

Castle Tioram Ruins

Sitting on the tidal island of Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart is Castle Tioram. It is known as ‘Dorlin Castle’ by locals.

In 1998, the castle was closed to the public due to its poor condition. In the year 2000, a major structural collapse occured.

Castle Tioram Ruins In Scotland

Urquhart Castle Ruins

It’s no surprise that Urquhart castle is as popular as it is seeing as it sits next to Loch Ness.

The ruins that you see today date back to both the 13th and 16th century. The MacDonald Earls of Ross raided the castle on a number of occasions whilst it was in use as a royal castle.

Urquhart Castle Ruins In Scotland.jpg

Ruined Castles In Stirling

Last but not least, we’re in the Stirling Council Area which covers the majority of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Buchanan Castle Ruins

Buchanan Castle is located west of Drymen. It was built in the mid 1800s as a home for the Montrose family.

The house remains the seat of the Clan Graham even though the roof was removed in 1954 and its condition has continued to deteriorate ever since.

If That’s Not Enough Ruined Castles…

…we don’t know what is! Hopefully at least one of these has peaked your interest like it did us.

If you think there’s anymore ruined castles we could mention in this guide or if you want to hear about castles all around the UK, just let us know below!