Drum Castle was seat of the Clan Irvine and in the Irvine family for 650 years, from 1325, when it was granted to William de Irvine by Robert the Bruce, until 1975. It has a rich history, 17th and 19th century additions and alterations, and is surrounded by gardens and an arboretum.
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 evocative ruins of Dunnottar Castle occupy a large, rocky, headland jutting into the North Sea, accessed by a narrow strip from the mainland. Though the current ruins date largely from the 15th and 16th centuries, its history goes back to the early medieval period, at least. Dunnottar was attacked by the Vikings, captured from the English by William Wallace, was famously where the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels) were hidden from Oliver Cromwell's forces, and played its part in the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th century.
NOTE: The castle can be closed to visitors in bad weather - essential that you check their website before visiting. There is also limited car parking - the castle is not in Stonehaven itself - it's about a 20 minute walk along the coast.
Ruined renaissance castle built by the 7th Laird of Tolquhon between 1584 and 1589. It has a particularly interesting gatehouse.
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.
Tells the story of the greatest munitions factory on earth and the lives of the girls who worked thee. HM Factory Gretna opened in 1916 and manufactured RDB Cordite. Cordite was (or is) a powerful explosive, a mixture of guncotton and nitro-glycerine, which was said to resemble porridge. HM Factory Gretna stretched over 9 miles and at its height employed 30,000 people.
14th century stronghold of the Black Douglases, built by Archibald the Grim, Threave Castle stands on an island in the river Dee. Access is via a small boat, summoned by ringing a bell...fabulous! Not much to see, but worth it for the excitement.
St Ninian, Scotland’s first Christian missionary, landed in 397AD on the Isle of Whithorn, at the south-east corner of the Machars Peninsula. A chapel was established for pilgrims nearby. Its ruined shell is 14th century, though there is evidence of an older building underneath – probably an earlier chapel.
The supposed site of Scotland's first church, built by St Ninian in the late 4th or early 5th century and known as the 'Candida Casa' - or 'white house' - hence 'whithorn'. There are the modest remains of a 12th century Premonstratensian abbey church, a shrine to St Ninian, a 19th century parish church dedicated to St Ninian and a small museum which contains the Latinus Stone, Scotland's earliest Christian monument.
This place is for enthusiasts only. The museum has limited opening - check before making a special trip. Whithorn itself has limited facilities.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place over several nights each August, coinciding with the Edinburgh Festival. It began in 1949/1950 and consists of military displays and music performed by British, Commonwealth and other nations' armed forces. The event takes place in a dramatic setting on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade at the top of Castle Hill, with audience stands erected high over the City. The Edinburgh Tattoo is seen by in excess of 200,000 people every year, with a high proportion of visitors coming from overseas. It is also televised and viewed by audiences worldwide. Tickets sell out fairly quickly. Though international in nature, there is a strong Scottish feel to the Tattoo. The traditional ending is a performance by the massed pipes and drums, the National Anthem and, finally, a floodlit lone piper playing a lament.