The 5 best Glasgow Castles  
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The introduction of feudalism in Scotland triggered the construction of the first castles in the 1100s.

David I was King of the Scots from 1124 to 1153. He was exiled to England temporarily in 1093. During this time he was influenced by the success of the Normans, who captured England and Wales from 1066 onwards and he saw the value of building castles to maintain power over the lands he ruled.

The first Scotland castles were built of wood. In the 13th century, with the improvement of methods to work with heavy materials, castles started to be constructed in stone. Gunpowder and other technological advances forced continuous adaptations of castle desiging during the following centuries.

Scotland castles were primarily used during that period to withhold enemy attacks and keep their occupants safe.

From the 15th century, castle-type palaces started to be built for enjoyment. Some castles became palaces that were used largely for comfort.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the military significance of castles declined, but they started to become tourist attractions.

In the 20th century many castles were taken over by Historic Scotland or the National Trust for Scotland and were open to the public.

Bothwell is the largest 13th century medieval stone castle in Scotland, situed on a high bank overlooking the River Clyde, in South Lanarkshire. Construction of the castle was begun by Walter of Moray and played a key role in Scotland’s Wars of Independence with England changing hands several times.

It has been described as ‘the grandest piece of secular architecture that the Middle Ages has bequeathed to us in Scotland’.

1st Earl of Forfar demolished half of it by the 18th century to provide materials for his new house and the castle fell into ruin. Finally, in 1935 it was given to the state, and it is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Part of the original keep of Bothwell Castle survives, including walls, the 13th century prison tower and the 14th century great hall and chapel.

Pin  The largest 13th century stone castle in Scotland.

Visit Dumbarton Castle

DUMBARTON CASTLE | 2017 Castle Silver Winner

Situated on a inaccessible volcanic rock overlooking the River Clyde, west of Glasgow, Dumbarton Castle was the centre of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde.

Between XIII to XVIIth century, a new castle was built there, but only two of the surviving structures date back to this period, the 14th-century Portcullis Arch and the 16th-century Guard House. It served as a royal castle and a prison, changing of hands several times.

Considered incapable of being defended, during XVII to XVIIIth most of the earlier buildings were replaced with what you can see today. It was left by the military in 1865 and just retaken by the army for the WWII, becoming a tourist attraction after it.

Today it is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

Pin  A continuity of use of over 1,500 years.

Discover Crookston Castle

CROOKSTON CASTLE | 2017 Castle Bronze Winner

Located in the Pollok area of south-west Glasgow, on the top of a natural low hill, the first fortification located here -now lost except the defensive ditch- was built by Robert de Croc in the 12th century.

Around 1400 it was replaced with a rectangular stone castle, with a high central tower and four square corner towers. Only the northeast corner tower is intact, giving an impressive view of the south of Glasgow.

In 1489 James IV besieged Crookston, probably with the famous cannon Mons Meg (located at Edinburgh Castle).

During the XVIII siecle, tle castle was abandonmented, but partially restored in 1847 and in 1931 Crookston became the first property acquired and looked after by Historic Scotland.

Pin  Built by Robert de Croc in the 12th century.

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Newark Castle is a still virtually intact castle built in 1478, and sited on the south shore of the estuary of the River Clyde in Port Glasgow, a location where in medieval times ships had to berth, and later a shipbuilding centre.

The original castle had a large gate house and a tower house within a surrounding wall enclosing a large courtyard. It probably included ancillary buildings such as a bakehouse, space for staff and a kitchen inside the walled enclosure.

In the late 16th century, the building was enlarged with a splendid Renaissance three-storey mansion added to the tower house.

Since 1909 Newark Castle came into state care and is now property of Historic Scotland.

Pin  For centuries this location was used to berth seagoing ships.

Mugdock is a mid-14th century castle owned by the prominent Clan Graham and located at the centre of Mugdock Country Park, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north of Milngavie.

This castle was built around a four sided courtyard with four towers but was partly destroyed in the 1640s on orders from Parliament. It was restored in 1661 incorporing a mansion within the old castle walls. A 19th-century Victorian house was later erected, incorporating the one surviving tower into the new building.

Donated in 1981 to become part of a country park, a big part of the castle is in ruins after been consumed by fire in the 1960s. Currently, just the South West tower, renovated as a museum, part of the North West tower, the portcullis, a fragmentary curtain wall and some first-floor level of the Victorian house remain.

Pin  Stronghold of the prominent Clan Graham.

DUCHAL CASTLE
COMYN'S CASTLE
CATHCART CASTLE
HAGGS CASTLE
CADZOW CASTLE
JOHNSTONE CASTLE
GILBERTFIELD CASTLE
STANELY CASTLE
DUNTREATH CASTLE
BEDLAY CASTLE
BALLOCH CASTLE
CROSSBASKET CASTLE
NEWARK CASTLE
MUGDOCK CASTLE
CRAIGEND CASTLE
POLLOK CASTLE
DUMBARTON CASTLE
DUNGLASS CASTLE
MAINS CASTLE
BOTHWELL CASTLE
MEARNS CASTLE
CROOKSTON CASTLE

RESEARCH TEAM ׀ GLASGOW

uilt in 1449, Mons Meg is a bombard cannon. In her time she was considered cutting edge military technology, capable of blasting a 150kg gunstone for 3.2km (2 miles).

During the uprising against James IV in 1489, Mons Meg was used to attack Dumbarton castle and possibly Crookston Castle.

It can nowadays be visited at Edinburgh Castle.

RESEARCH TEAM ׀ GLASGOW


Glasgow Castles

Cool Facts

The Quote

Living in a castle is objectively romantic.

Lev Grossman. American Novelist (1969-).

RESEARCH TEAM ׀ GLASGOW


Greatest Glasgow Awards

Technical Criteria

Research led by SUZANNAH HENDERSON ׀
Date of the Research: 20 APRIL 4 MAY 2017 ׀
Publication date: 8 MAY 2017
Review date: 8 MAY 2018

Scope of the research & essential inclusion criteria:
Built during the Middle Ages. It exists today.
Premium+ criteria:


1 Historical relevance.
2 Originality and uniqueness of the castle.
3 Maintenance / Current conditions.
4 Innovative construction techniques.
5 Beauty of the building.


6 Interior decoration.
7 Original size.
8 Reliable recreation of the period.
9 Admission price / Free entry / Concessions.

Premium Validation criteria:


10 Ease for visitors to understand what is displayed.
11 Friendly to visitors.
12 Beauty and appeal of the environment.
13 Uniqueness of the environment.
14 Membership options and benefits.
15 Information in different languages.
16 Activities.


17 Castle tours and guides.
18 Decorative lighting.
19 Quality of the castle website.
20 Accessibility and visit adaptation for disabled persons.
21 A-listed.
22 Other features.

Additional information about the VPP+ process:     VPP+