The fantastic Doune Castle was the home of the Regent Albany, the filming location of Monty Python, and a historic landmark. If you’re travelling from Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Cairngorms National Park or the far-flung Highlands of Scotland, then stopping by Doune Castle should be at the top of your to-do list.
We’ll be covering the fascinating history of Doune Castle, how to get there & details to know, and the top attractions you should keep an eye out for when you visit Doune Castle. Don’t let this royal retreat in Perthshire pass by.
In This Post
History of Doune Castle
The site of Doune Castle has been a notorious site of fortification ever since the 1st century AD when the Romans built a fortification at the meeting of Ardoch Burn and River Teith. Although that site is no longer visible, there are remains of the castle that sit below ground.
The site likely also has a fortification made by Gaelic influences, after which Doune Castle is a med after and means ‘fort’. The castle in its current form dates back to the 13th century, which historians consider to be one of the most creative and productive periods of Scottish castles, including other great works like Tantallon and Dirleton.
Regent of Albany
But such a great hall needs a keeper, and during the mid-14th century, the castle and surrounding lands of Doune Castle were granted to Robert Stewart – the Earl of Menteith and the Regent and Duke of Albany. Robert Stewart was an important figure in Scottish history, and his brother was one of the Scottish monarchs, King Robert III.
In addition to being in charge of Doune Castle, Robert Stewart undertook Royal duties when the successor of King Robert III was captured. During this turbulent time of regency, Doune Castle became the primary residence from which important charters were sent all over Scotland. After a life filled with responsibility, Robert Stewart’s titles and grants of Doune Castle were passed down to his son, Murdoch.
It was in Murdoch’s time when the captured successor, James I, was returned to Scotland. To regain control over his country, James I captured and executed the newly appointed Duke of Albany and his sons. Doune Castle returned to be Scotland’s Crown and became a place of peace and refuge, where Scottish monarchs used it as a hunting lodge and retreat.
Doune Castle continued to be the site of Royal visits throughout the 1500s, and ownership of the castle passed through many notable Scottish Royals, including James IV’s mistress Janet Kennedy, Margaret Tudor, and Sir James Stewart, the first Lord Doune. Doune Castle also was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots, several times before her forced abdication.
James VI also came to Doune Castle in 1581 and spent £300 (worth over £130,000 today) to be spent on renovations for the castle. These renovations introduced greater defences to the castle, something that would become extremely useful once the castle became a prison and garrison.
The Turbulent 1700s & Today
Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, Doune Castle slowly deteriorated during its time as a garrison but still held a prominent role in Scottish history for characters like Oliver Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite Highlanders. But as time’s ruthless hands turned, Doune Castle showed more signs of wear and tear until it was given to Historic Environment Scotland by the 20th Earl of Moray.
Today, the castle is open to visitors and is a stunning attraction to see whilst exploring Perthshire. If you’re planning a day trip filled with the notable historic Scotland highlands in the region, then adding Doune Castle to that list is essential.
How to Get There & Details to Know
Planning to visit one of the most complete medieval castles in Scotland? Here are the details that you need to know during your visit and how to get there.
Doune Castle is open throughout the year, although the opening times will vary depending on when you arrive. Between April – September, Doune Castle is open daily between 9:30 – 17:30, last entry at 16:30. From October – March, the opening times are from 10:00 – 16:00, last entry at 15:15.
Entry costs to Doune Castle are the following: £10 for adults, £6 for children (7 – 15), and £8 for seniors. There are several affordable family packages as well if you’re planning to bring the whole family on an outing to Doune Castle. Pro tip: you receive a 25% discount on your ticket if you come to Doune Castle by bus, train, or bike! You’ll need to have your ticket or transportation on hand to get this discount.
Adverse weather conditions can cause Doune Castle to be closed unexpectedly throughout the year, so keep the forecast in mind before you arrive.
How to Get There by Car
Doune Castle is miraculously only an hour’s drive from Edinburgh by car. From Edinburgh city centre you’ll want to drive onto the A90 from Queensferry Road until you take the A904 offramp before the Queensferry Crossing Bridge. Connect with the M9 and follow the road until you reach the B824 which will lead you to Doune.
If you’re leaving from Glasgow, you’ll want to take the M8 and M9 north east through Stirling until you’re met with the B824 that leads you to Doune. Travel time from Glasgow to Doune Castle should take around 45 minutes without traffic.
How to Get There by Transit
Another option for travellers to Doune Castle is to take public transit instead. Although this may take longer, you’ll be able to use the ticket to claim a 25% discount on your entry ticket when you pay.
From Edinburgh, you can take the ScotRail to Croy, which connects you to a ScotRail station in Stirling. Stirling offers a bus station that will take you to Bank Street in Doune, from which Doune Castle is only a 10-minute walk.
Those taking transit from Glasgow can grab a ScotRail from Glasgow’s Queen Street Station to Stirling, from which they can take the same bus ride from Stirling to Dune’s Bank Street.
Attractions at Doune Castle
The formidable Doune Castle is not a castle that you’ll want to miss when exploring Perthshire, and the castle holds many stellar attractions in and around it. Here are the top attractions that you can look forward to seeing while visiting Doune Castle.
Explore Doune Castle’s Interior
Although Doune Castle has slowly deteriorated throughout the castle’s history, there are still notable portions of the castle that you can look forward to. Much of the interior has been subject to restoration works that allow visitors to see the castle back in its former glory.
The Lord’s Hall and Tower make up the main entrance gate and principal hall of Doune Castle. As you traverse the cobbled, vaulted passage you’ll be able to see the guard’s rooms and gun loops that were used to defend the castle from would-be attackers.
The second story has been restored with timber panelling, offering a look at where Scottish monarchs would’ve had private talks next to a double fireplace. This part of the castle is filled to the brim with historical significance, so make sure to stop by this north east corner of Doune.
Castle Courtyard & Cellar
Surrounded by a 12-metre-tall curtain wall, the castle courtyard is open to the elements and lets you catch your breath after exploring the narrow doorways of Doune Castle. This open expanse lends you a fantastic view of the artillery that would’ve sat on the walls, as well as leads to the three cellars that once held fine wines, whisky, and grain for the monarchs.
Doune Castle lets you walk along the castle battlements, offering terrific views out to the Perthshire countryside. Doune Castle’s central location made it a strategic point during the wars and rebellions of Scotland, so having clear views all around was essential.
Great Hall & Kitchen Tower
Along the west wall of Doune Castle, you’ll find the Great Hall and the Kitchen Tower. The Great Hall of Doune Castle has many of the most famous Scottish monarchs attending bountiful banquets and feasts, all supplied by the hard-working cooks of the Kitchen Tower.
The Kitchen Tower was one of the most well-appointed kitchens of the time and had a massive oven and fireplace for boars and hearty stews. The musicians gallery likely entertained guests with Scottish songs and stories in the meantime.
See Famous Filming Locations at Doune Castle
Doune Castle has been the filming location for several of your favourite television shows and movies. Fans of the TV adaption of the book ‘Outlander’, for example, will instantly recognise Doune Castle as the fictional Castle Leoch during the show’s pilot episode. If you’re an Outlander fan, Doune Castle is a must-see attraction.
The castle was also a prominent filming location for the ‘Outlaw King’, which covered the life of Robert the Bruce. Games of Thrones’ first season also used Doune Castle for the fantastical setting of Winterfell, where many of the major tragic characters were introduced.
Finally, many of your favourite iconic scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed using Doune Castle and the surrounding courtyard. Monty Python fans will have a field day spotting the location of many key scenes from the movie.
See the Castle Grounds
The grounds outside Doune Castle are verdant and splendid, with a few excellent stops that you need to stop at. The River Teith and Ardoch Burn chortle are nearby, solidifying the geographical importance of Doune Castle.
The castle keeper’s cottage is also just outside of Doune Castle, where members and architects would design and build the further buildings of Doune Castle. You can also get great pictures of the north west sides enclosing Doune Castle, especially the mighty tower house that is the Lord’s Hall and Tower.