When people across the UK were asked to vote in a list of the top 10 best castles in the country, the top two places went to Scottish castles. Edinburgh Castle topped the list, with Balmoral Castle, The Queen’s holiday home in Royal Deeside, coming in second place.
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director, said: “I am delighted but not surprised that Balmoral has been voted the second best-known castle in Scotland. It is recognised around the world as the Scottish holiday home of the Queen and Royal family, attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually and is situated in a stunning location in Royal Deeside.
“It is also encouraging that Crathes, Slains and Dunnottar castles – all in Aberdeenshire – were mentioned by visitors in this research. We are very proud to boast that we are home to Scotland’s Castle Trail – it gives a tremendous boost to the region.
“Castles are an iconic and integral part of Scotland’s history and culture. From the grandiose castles of Stirling and Edinburgh to the remote charms of Corgarff and Kindrochit castles – there is something unique and special about every single one and each has their own significant story to tell.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a Scottish castle in their lifetime, so we would encourage everyone to make it their mission to bag a Scottish castle and a Munro on their visit here!”
While Balmoral and Dunnotar castles are well known, what is surprising is that research has revealed that almost half of Brits have never visited a Scottish castle, which is why VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to bag one of the region’s hundreds of castles.
Aberdeenshire is known as “Scotland’s Castle Country”, and with an impressive tally of 300 castles, stately mansions and ruins scattered across the landscape, there are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK.
These include the sugar-plum pink Craigievar Castle – which many believe to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle logo – and Castle Fraser, one of the largest tower houses in the land which has quirky features such as the “Laird’s Lug” – a chamber hidden above the Great Hall so that the Laird could eavesdrop on his visitors.
In total, Scotland has around 3,000 standing castles, ruins and documented sites. Of these, about 1,050 are merely sites, including those where a house has been built on the site of a previous castle, and about 825 are standing ruins.
At the last count, 660 were in use (private house, hotel or wedding venue) and around 469 were open to the public, though some only for a couple of weeks each year.
Aberdour Castle in Fife and Castle Sween in Argyll are thought to be two of the oldest datable standing castles in Scotland, dating from around 1200, and the youngest castle in Scotland is thought to be Carbisdale Castle which was built in 1907.
Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland was voted the most romantic-looking castle, followed by Aberdeenshire’s Crathes Castle and popular visitor favourite, Eilean Donan Castle in the Highlands.
On the opposite side of the scale, two other Aberdeenshire castles came out on top in the research, with Slains Castle in Peterhead voted the most likely to be haunted, followed closely by iconic Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven, and in third place, Brodick Castle on Arran.
To discover more about Scotland’s Castles, visit www.visitscotland.com/blog/attractions/top-scottish-castles/