The Campbell family was a powerful and prestigious clan of Scotland, and Castle Campbell was their Lowland seat overlooking the beautiful Dollar Glen. The Castle offers stunning views, knowledge about incredible historical figures, and verdant landscapes ripe for exploration. We’ll cover everything you need to know about this Medieval Castle situated in the Lowlands of Perthshire when you visit Castle Campbell.
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History of Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell was initially called Castle Gloom. It is a stone fortress dating back to the early 15th century. The castle held a strategically important location overlooking the stunning Dollar Glen. In 1465, it was passed to Colin Campbell through marriage, the acquisition of Castle Gloom expanded the power of their family. Colin Campbell married Isabel Stewart, Lord Lorne’s daughter (the Lord Lorne of the time named Walter Stewart).
The prominent clan needed a location that allowed them to oversee Central Scotland, suited Colin Campbell’s position, and was close to the royal court of Scotland. Colin Campbell petitioned for the name of Castle Gloom to be changed, and once the newly crowned King James IV of Scotland issued a royal approval for the change, Castle Campbell became its new name.
Castle Campbell Through the 16th century
Clan Campbell had a successful 200 years at Castle Campbell, with many powerful Campbell Earls of Argyll controlling the region. The 4th Earl of Argyll became the Protestant Lords of the region and supported Calvinist preacher John Knox during his stay in Scotland. Soon after John Knox preached at Castle Campbell in 1556, Mary, Queen of Scots, also paid a visit to this Castle in 1563 during her sister’s marriage.
A time of peace throughout the 1500s allowed the Earls of Argyll to expand Castle Campbell. Archibald Campbell, the 7th Earl of Argyll, rebuilt the east range and linked it to the large south range with refurbished guest chambers. The east range was also developed and has been compared to the courtyard facade of Crichton Castle, as the castle dates back to the same time.
By 1595, Campbell Castle boasted 47 beds and was finely furnished with tapestries, furniture, and artistry.
Downfall of Castle Campbell
For nearly 200 years, Clan Campbell ruled over the naturally defended position on the Ochil Hills, but the dramatically situated Castle would only remain for a while. Even in 1590, Clan Campbell drew the ire of James VI of Scotland. The King was displeased that their castle captain released Henry Mersair, who was found guilty of murder and arson.
However, Castle Campbell’s true downfall came during the mid-17th century when the Earls of Argyll continued to support and lead the Presbyterian Covenanters. This was in direct opposition to the Royalists, and soon, Royalist rebels attacked and laid waste to the lands around Castle Campbell. While the castle was untouched, the Royalists would strike again in 1654 and burned Castle Campbell two nights after the Earls of Argyll opposed Charles’ invasion and submitted to Cromwell’s forces.
They would not renovate Castle Campbell after this attack; instead, the remaining Earl of Argyll ordered a new Castle to be built. Abandoned and sold to an adjacent estate, the owners of the Harviestoun estate entrusted the beautifully sited Dollar Glen to the National Trust of Scotland. Historic Scotland now manages the Castle, slowly restoring it to its former glory.
How to Get There & Details to Know
Castle Campbell is only open from 1 April to 30 September, during the height of spring and summer in Scotland. The castle is open daily between 9:30 and 17:30, with last entry at 17:00. It is closed for lunch between 12:30 and 13:30, with last entry at noon.
Adult tickets for Castle Campbell cost £7.50, child tickets (7 – 15 year-olds) cost £4.50, and concession tickets cost £6.00. Several family packages are also available, from £15.00 – £25.50, depending on which package you choose. Admission tickets are subject to change.
How to Get There by Car
Those travelling to Castle Campbell by car can drive along the A91 or A876 north-east towards Kinross. From Stirling, the castle is only a half-hour drive away and easily fits into a day of sightseeing. There is a main car park outside Castle Campbell, where guests can park before travelling to the castle.
How to Get There by Transit
Transit is also a superb option for reaching Castle Campbell. Grab the 52 line from Alloa from Stirling for 30 stops until you reach Murray Square in Devonside. Then take the Dollar for 7 stops to The Ness Turning Circle. Castle Campbell is about an hour’s transit away from Stirling.
Attractions at Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell holds several fantastic attractions for visitors to see, with numerous historic Scotland tapestries and family artefacts that can be found throughout the Castle. Here are the top attractions to look forward to during your visit:
Sightsee in Dollar Glen
The stunning Dollar Glen surrounding Castle Campbell is filled with narrow gorges, cascading waterfalls, and several woodland walks. From throughout the picturesque Glen, Castle Campbell is sited upon a narrow bridge overlooked by the Ochil Hills.
The Dollar Glen has been named a Site of Special Interest, with over 190 types of lichen to spot! If you want a natural landscape to explore, then Dollar Glen is the place to see.
Explore Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell is one of Scotland’s best-preserved tower houses and boasts stunning ruins. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the unusual loggia, which you would see in more temperate climates like Spain and Italy. The loggia leads to the outer chamber and ground floor, with multiple interactive displays that inform visitors about the present tower house.
See John Knox’s Pulpit
John Knox visited the home of Clan Campbell during the 16th century and preached to the residents in 1556. The spot in the glen where he spoke is called ‘John Knox’s pulpit’ and offers excellent views out to Dollar Glen.
Walk Through the Terrace Gardens
The terraced gardens of Castle Campbells were the site where the Campbells of Argyll could have spectacular views of the glen. Historic Scotland is slowly restoring the attractive terraced gardens, which make for an excellent location to enjoy after exploring past the cobbled courtyard of the Castle and its other buildings.