Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

SCA Castle Tour To Stirlingshire - Feb 2004

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle


Location - OS map 57 (NS790-940)

In Stirling on minor roads west of A872, south of A84 at Stirling Castle.


One of the most important and powerful castles in Scotland, Stirling Castle stands on a high rock, and consists of a courtyard castle, which dates in part from the 12th century.

The castle is entered through the 18th century outer defences and 16th century forework of which the Prince's Tower and the gatehouse survive, but the Elphinstone Tower has been reduced to its base. The gatehouse leads to the Lower Square, which is bordered on one side by the Kings old building, and on another by the gable of the Great Hall.

The Kings Old Buildings contained royal chambers over a vaulted basement, reached by a turnpike stair. The entrance, through a porch, led to the Kings halls and bed chamber. A road leads between the Kings Old Buildings and the hall to the Upper Square. The Chapel Royal is built on one side of the square, as is the Great Hall, which was completed during the reign of James IV. The hall has five fireplaces, and had a magnificent hammer-beam ceiling - which had not survived, but has been replaced. The chamber has been restored from an 18th century barrack conversion. Other features of interest are the kitchens, the wall walk and the nearby Kings Knot, an ornamental garden, which once had a pleasure canal.

Brief History

The earliest recorded castle at Stirling was used by Malcolm Canmore in the 11th century. Alexander I died here in 1124, as did William the Lion in 1214. Edward I of England captured the castle in 1304 when he used, after the garrison had surrendered, a siege engine called the War Wolf. He wanted to see if it would have worked. William Wallace took the castle for the Scots but it was retaken by the English until the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 when it was surrendered. Robert the Bruce had the castle slighted, but it was rebuilt by Edward III of England, after his victory of Halidon Hill in 1333, in support of Edward Balliol. The English garrison was besieged in 1337 by Andrew Moray, but it was not until 1342 that the Scots recovered the castle. James I had Murdoch Duke of Albany and his sons executed at the castle in 1425, James II was born here in 1430, as was James III in 1451. James II lured the eighth Earl of Douglas to it in 1452, and murdered him, and had his body tossed out of a window, despite having promised him a safe conduct. Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned in the old chapel in 1533, and James VI was baptised here in 1566. He also stayed here in 1617, as did Charles I in 1633, and Charles II in 1650.

In 1651 the castle was besieged by Monck for Cromwell, but it surrendered after a few days because of a mutiny in the garrison. It was in a poor state of repair in the 18th century, but the garrison harried the Jacobites in both the 1715 and 1745 Risings. The Jacobites besieged the castle after the Battle of Falkirk in 1746, although not very successfully. After 1745 the castle was subdivided to be used as a barracks. The army remained until 1964. Features include the Royal Chapel, exhibitions of life in a royal palace, introductory display, medieval kitchen display. Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, telling the story of the regiment from 1794 to the present, including uniforms, silver, paintings, colours, pipe banners and commentaries.

Auchenbowie House

Auchenbowie House


Location - OS map 57 (NS798-874)

About 3.5 miles south of Stirling, on minor road west of the A872 west of the M80 at Auchenbowie.


Auchenbowie House, a three-storey mansion of 1666, incorporates an altered 16th century L-plan Tower House of three storeys and an attic. A semi-hexagonal stair tower stands in the re-entrant angle. No defensive features remain. The house was extended in 1768 and in the 19th century.

Brief History

The lands belong to the Cunninghams of Polmaise, but were bought by Robert Bruce, who was Provost of Stirling in 1555. One of the family, Captain William Bruce, killed a Charles Elphinstone in a duel at the end of the 17th century. In 1708 Auchenbowie passed by marriage to the Munros. The house is in good condition and is still occupied.

Old Sauchie - recently restored from ruin

Old Sauchie - recently restored from ruin


Location - OS map 57 (NS779-883)

About three miles south west of Stirling, on minor roads west of the A872, west of Howieton fishery at Old Sauchie.


Old Sauchie was a ruined 16th century L-plan Tower House of four storeys. To this had been added a 17th century wing and other additions which were used as an estate office. The tower has now been re-roofed and is completely restored. The old Tower has two bartizans, and a corbelled out stair-turret. It has corbiestepped gables, and the walls are pierced by gun loops and shot holes. The entrance, in the re-entrant angle, leads to the vaulted basement, which contained the original kitchen and cellars, and to a wide stair to the first floor hall. A turnpike stair, in the turret, climbs to the upper floors. Brief History It was a property of the Erskines, but passed to the Ramsays in the 18th century, then in 1865 to Sir Alexander Gibson-Maitland. The battle of Sauchieburn was fought nearby in 1488, where the forces of James III were defeated by his rebellious nobles. The King was murdered after the battle and is buried in Cambuskenneth Abbey.

Bannockburn House
Bannockburn House


Location - OS map 57 (NS809-889)

About 2.5 miles south of Stirling, on minor roads just south of the A99 just north east of the junction with the M9 at Bannockburn House.


Bannockburn house although much altered and extended, consists of a 17th century block, with dormers and corbiestepped gables, and later additions.

Brief History

It was built by the Rollo family, but passed to the Pattersons. The family's Jacobite sympathies led to both the forfeiture of the lands after the 1715 Jacobite Rising, and to an invitation to Bonnie Prince Charlie to stay in the house during the 1745 Rising. It was during this visit that Bonnie Prince Charlie met Clemantine Walkinshaw, who became his mistress. She followed him into exile, and they had a daughter, Charlotte, in 1753, the house is still occupied.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle


Location - OS map 57 (NN728-011)

About 0.25 miles south east of Doune, on minor road south of the A820, just north of where the River Teith and the Ardoch Burn meet.


Standing on a strong site in a lovely location, Doune Castle built in the 14th century, consists of two strong towers linked by a lower range. These buildings form two sides of a courtyard, the other side is enclosed by a high curtain wall. Other ranges were planned to surround the whole courtyard but were apparently never built. The curtain wall has open rounds at the corners, and corbelled-out semicircular bartizans midway between the rounds. The larger gatehouse, or Lords tower, with the arched entrance or pend to the castle through the basement, is rectangular on plan with a semi-circular tower projecting at one corner. It rises to five storeys and a gabled garret within a flush parapet. The smaller, or kitchen tower rises to four storeys and a gabled garret, also within a flush parapet. The Lords tower has vaulted cellars, in the basement, and a fine vaulted hall on the first floor, reached by an external stone stair from the courtyard. The hall has a magnificent double fireplace and a gallery. A stair in the thickness of the walls, climbs to the storeys above, which contain many chambers. The joining range contains a lesser hall and was also originally reached by a separate outside stair. The kitchen tower has an enormous arched fireplace, an oven and drains, and above this were more private chambers, a suite of which was used by Mary Queen of Scots.

Brief History

The castle was built by Robert Stewart Duke of Albany, who virtually ruled Scotland during the reign of Robert III and the imprisonment in England of the young James I. When Albany died in 1420 his son, Murdoch, succeeded him as Regent and as Duke, but when James I was freed in 1424 he had Murdoch executed. Doune was kept as a royal hunting lodge, prison and dower house for the widows of James III, James IV and James V. It was occasionally used by Mary Queen of Scots and was held by forces loyal to her until 1570. Doune was occupied by the Marquis of Montrose in 1645, and by government troops during the Jacobite Risings of 1689 and 1715. It was taken by Jacobites in 1745, and used as a prison, although many of the prisoners escaped. It was restored in the late 19th century, although the mortar used has had to be replaced. The ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray" tells the tale of the murder of the Earl at Donibristle by the Gordon Earl of Huntly during a feud, and has the last verse - "O lang will his lady look owre the castle Doune, Ere she sees the Earl of Murray come sounding through the toun".

Old Leckie House

Old Leckie House


Location - OS map 57 - (NS690-946)

About 6.5 miles west of Stirling, on minor road south of the A811, one mile south of Gargunnock at Old Leckie.


Old Leckie is a late 16th century T-plan tower house. It consists of a main block of three storeys, and a centrally projecting stair wing. A stair turret is corbelled out from first floor level and another above the second floor. A lower wing was added in the mid 18th century. The entrance still has an iron yet, but the house has been altered inside, including the removal of the stair from the stair-tower.

Brief History

The property belonged to the Leckie family, who built the present castle, but was sold to the Moirs in 1659, who held it until the beginning of the 20th century. Bonnie Prince Charlie was entertained at the house in 1745 by the wife of the laird while her husband was imprisoned in Stirling Castle.


Details here are extracted from...
Nigel Tranter - The Fortified House in Scotland - Volume 2 - Central Scotland
Martin Coventry - The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter - The Castles of The Heartland of Scotland

Added: 28 Feb 2004 Updated: 18 Apr 2022
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Comment by: O'Toole on Sun, 12th Jul 2015, 7:29 pmRef id: 54

Mum & dad worked there for years. For Lord Younger In the 1950s. Children went to Stirling School.

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