A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON CASTLES IN SCOTLAND:
The first castles, as opposed to more rudimentary hill-fort type constructions, started to appear in Scotland in the 1100s, built both by local feudal lords and Norman newcomers.
The Normans had a long presence in Scotland, and were politically very powerful, but they never actually invaded the country. Instead many members of their aristocracy and military were invited there by King David I, a noted ‘Normophile’ and keen modernizer, and their cultural and political presence was quickly felt.
Initially their castles were mainly wooden, motte-and-bailey type structures but, as elsewhere, they became replaced in time with more solid, high stone walled structures.
In later centuries, as Scotland came under English dominance, many castles were built by them and played an important role in the subjugation of rebellions and the defence of territory, including in the Wars of Independence of the 13th and 14th centuries.
In Scotland, just as elsewhere, the importance of defensive castles began to wane in time though, and for much the same reasons.
As the Middle Ages progressed things got more peaceful – the feudal system gave way to more centralized power structures – internal conflicts and civil wars therefore became fewer.
In the wars that did happen though, mainly intra kingdoms and states, castles were also too often becoming breached by advances in gunpowder technology.
‘Castles’ were still being built but, apart from the likes of the pele watch towers built along the Scottish/English borders, they generally had very little military use. Instead most were designed as aristocratic residential palaces, or previous defensive castles were re-designed as such. These may have retained much castle architecture and castle like features but merely for aesthetic purposes.
In Scotland this included the classic Scots Baronial and Neo-Gothic folly structures that were mainly built in the Georgian and Victorian era and still abound today. The Royal Family’s residence, Balmoral Castle, being probably the most famous, and grand, example.
Our choices for the best castle hotels in Scotland include all the above – medieval defensive castles, Neo-Gothic follies and Georgian/Victorian era palaces, and you can read all about their individual histories on their listing pages.
Most are child/family friendly, many are pet friendly, some have both B&B and self catering accommodation, and a few are 5 Star luxury castles with a whole range of top hotel features like spa facilities, swimming pool, golf course etc.
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