Craigmillar Castle

Edinburgh has many castles, and of the bunch Craigmillar is my favourite. Edinburgh Castle is fantastic, but it can lack that true, medieval castle feel. For that, you just need to head two miles south. Craigmillar Castle is one of the most complete medieval castles in Scotland, for while it some sections lack a roof and the interiors are gutted it otherwise shows off some of the best example of castellated architecture I’ve seen. With two layers of walls, a central keep, numerous gun and arrow slits, machicolations, a wall-walk, armorial panels and much more, Craigmillar is brimming with medieval and Renaissance-era features.

First built by the Prestons then subsequently owned by the Gilmours, Craigmillar was in use between the 15th to early 18th centuries. Over those years it played host to several dramatic episodes, including the plot to murder Mary, Queen of Scot’s oafish husband Lord Darnley which became known as the ‘Craigmillar Bond’. Climbing to the top of the keep gives spectacular views over the Edinburgh skyline, and indeed it was often used as a quick break from the claustrophobia of pre-modern, urban life. Now managed by Historic Environment Scotland, I recommend getting there as soon as you can to enjoy some of its tranquility – it has recently been used as an Outlander filming location, meaning that this quiet castle is going to get a lot busier very soon.