Balmoral is a 50,000 acre estate and the private Scottish home of the British Royal Family. It was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852, close to the Highlands they both loved. The current castle is new - Victoria and Albert had it constructed between 1853 and 1856; the old castle was then demolished. There is limited public access to the grounds, gardens and exhibitions (including access to the castle ballroom only) between spring and early summer, when the Royal Family is not in residence. Apart from the ballroom, the castle is not open to the public. Cottages in the grounds can also be hired.
The Battle of Bannockburn took place over the 23rd and 24th June 1314 between the Scots, under Robert the Bruce, and a significantly larger army under Edward II of England. The English were under siege by the Scots at Stirling Castle and Edward's army was intended to relieve the siege. Instead, Bruce inflicted a massive defeat. This ultimately led to the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.
Much of the probable site of the battle is now built over. However, the National Trust for Scotland operates a visitor centre that offers a hi-tech battle experience (ticket only), a shop and a cafe. There is memorial to the battle on the site as well as a statue of Robert the Bruce. Note - there is no museum or exhibition.
Memorial to the Battle of Roslin, erected in 1994. The battle was fought on 24th February 1303 between the Scots and English during the Wars of Scottish Independence. It was a Scottish victory, but it does not figure in many history books and few people have even heard of it. Some accounts of the battle suggest that a divided force of 30,000 English troops was picked off in 3 separate engagements by a rapidly assembled Scottish army of 8,000 fighting on terrain they knew. However, evidence is lacking and the above story may be a myth; the battle could have been a skirmish, or series of skirmishes.
The battle was fought on 11 September 1297. Following Scots support for the French, Edward I of England invaded Scotland, deposed the King, John Balliol and left an army of occupation. Sir William Wallace and Sir Andrew Moray led a rebellion and met an English army outside Stirling. The English advanced over a narrow bridge over the River Forth. The Scots fell upon the English from the high ground on Abbey Craig, cutting the invading army in two. The English commander, the Earl of Surrey, could not reinforce because of the narrowness of the bridge. The portion of his forces that had crossed the bridge were cut down, though some of managed to escape by swimming back across the river. The Scottish victory destroyed the myth of English invincibility. Legend has it that the hated English treasurer, Hugh de Cressingham, was flayed after the battle and that Wallace made a belt from the skin.
The actual bridge of the battle was destroyed at the time. The current 'old' bridge was built downstream of it in the 16th century and is still in use by pedestrians. There is a plaque on the east end of the bridge, with a small portion of meadow adjacent, but it is thought that most of the fighting took place on ground that is now built over. It's a nice bridge, though. Post code is very approximate.
The tiny ruins of Blackfriars' Chapel are the only visible remains of a Dominican Friary that was established in St Andrews c1464. The friars wore black robes - hence the name. The chapel was built in 1525 as an extension to the church, but was destroyed during the Scottish Reformation, presumably when, or shortly after, the friars were 'violently expelled' in 1559. So, there's very little to see but it's worth having a look when you're in town.
The imposing red sandstone ruins of Bothwell Castle guard a strategic crossing point over the River Clyde. One feature is the castle's unusual round keep, or donjon. You can also explore the prison cells, great hall and chapel. Construction was started on the castle in the late 13th century, but was incomplete when captured by the English, recaptured, captured again... It then changed hands several more times and had a chequered history, being intentionally ruined at least twice so that it could no longer be used.
The castle sometimes has to be closed at short notice due to bad weather. Check with Historic Scotland before making a special trip.
A 17th century residence (possibly the original Maxwell House?!), built inside a forbidding triangular medieval fortress, surrounded by a romantic moat, besieged by the English, ruined by religion. Plus a colony of Natterjack toads AND the site of an earlier castle.
What more could you ask?
It is about 6 miles south of Dumfries off the B725. Follow the A75 west from the M6/M74.
Named for the mountain Cairn Gorm, the Cairngorm National Park in North East Scotland is Britain’s largest - twice as big as the Lake District - and most remote. Though famed for its mountains, it is actually a diverse area of area of 1748 square miles which includes castles, distilleries and a whole lot more - as well as being home to some of Britain's rarest animals. And it is one of the few places in the UK that offers skiing on real snow.
The Callanish (or Calanais in Gaelic) Standing Stones is a complex of 50 stones in a cruciform arrangement roughly aligned north-south, with an inner circle of 13 stones and a small chambered cairn. They date from 3000BC and there are several other prehistoric sites nearby, including 3 additional circles. As with other stone circles in Britain, there is no satisfactory explanation for the purpose of these monuments - though, according to tradition they are petrified giants.
There is a modern visitor centre managed by Urras nan Tursachan (The Standing Stones Trust).