Wars of Scottish Independence Sites

If you’re looking to explore Wars of Scottish Independence sites and want to find the best places to view the history of the Wars of Scottish Independence then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Once you’ve explored the list of Wars of Scottish Independence sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.

Our database of historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Wars of Scottish Independence sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Wars of Scottish Independence: Site Index

Photo by Shadowgate (cc)

Bannockburn Battlefield

Bannockburn Battlefield was the site where Scottish leader Robert the Bruce defeated the English, repelling their attempts to control Scotland and once again affirming its sovereignty.

DID YOU KNOW?

Bannockburn Battlefield was the site where Scottish leader Robert the Bruce defeated the English, repelling their attempts to control Scotland and once again affirming its sovereignty. The Battle of Bannockburn was a key clash in the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Robert the Bruce had been crowned king of the Scots in 1306 (Robert I), but later suffered several defeats at the hands of the English and was soon forced to flee. However, he came back to Scotland and waged a guerrilla war against the English, one that proved very successful.

In 1314, King Edward II of England was marching a large army towards Stirling Castle, a stronghold which had changed hands several times between the English and the Scottish. It was under English rule at the time, but also under siege. Determined to stop the king’s progress towards Stirling, Robert the Bruce positioned his army a Bannock Burn.

The Battle of Bannockburn began on 23 June 1314 and, despite having a much smaller army – roughly 5,000 Scots to 18,000 English – Robert the Bruce managed to repel the English by the next day. King Edward fled, whilst many of the English soldiers were killed or were taken prisoner.

Today, Bannockburn Battlefield is managed by the Scottish National Trust and offers a series of interesting attractions including a dramatic equestrian statue of Robert the Bruce, There is also a heritage centre, with information about the battle itself.

Photo by Bert Kaufmann (cc)

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle is a ruined medieval stronghold near Glasgow which played a role in the Wars of Independence.

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Bothwell Castle is a stunning ruined medieval stronghold near Glasgow and one of the most celebrated of its kind. Begun by the Morays, an important aristocratic family, in around 1242, Bothwell Castle was intended to be a large and imposing fort. The tower or "donjon" which remains there today offers a glimpse into the Morays’ vision.

Construction of Bothwell Castle had to be ceased, thought to be due to the fact that the Wars of Independence broke out in 1296. It was never completed. Yet, despite its unfinished state, Bothwell Castle did play a role in the Wars of Independence.

It was subjected to several sieges and being taken by each of the opposing sides several times. The most famous of these attacks occurred in 1301. At this time, Edward I laid siege to Bothwell and, with a force of almost seven thousand, the English eventually succeeded in taking the castle.

In 1362, Bothwell Castle passed to the aristocratic Black Douglas family by marriage and they rebuilt it. Whilst not adhering to the structure of the Morays, the new Bothwell Castle was still formidable and parts of it - notably its chapel - can still be seen.

Photo by Paul Stevenson (cc)

Caerlaverock Castle

Set in truly jaw-dropping Scottish countryside, Caerlaverock Castle was an important fortification, providing defence for the Scottish crown in a period of deep rooted rivalry with England.

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Caerlaverock Castle is an impressive a medieval fortress which stands out for its unique triangular design and picturesque location, ensuring it ranks among Scotland’s most remarkable castles.

First built in the late-13th century on the site of previous fortifications, Caerlaverock Castle has a long and fascinating history and still bares the wounds of many of its battles.

Standing strong on the Scottish border, the castle is in many ways a symbol of the divisions that for so many years tore England and Scotland apart. Due to its strategic location, Caerlaverock was often central to the on-going rivalry and warfare which took place between the two crowns.

Indeed in the early 14th century Caerlaverock Castle was besieged and captured by the English king Edward I, as he led his armies against Scotland. Despite holding off an initial assault, the small Scottish garrison could do little once Edward turned his siege machines against the fortress and it was captured within two days.

In the 17th century Caerlaverock was home to Robert Maxwell, the 1st Earl of Nithsdale, who remodelled the structure and based the living quarters on Linlithgow Palace. However, Caerlaverock retained its military significance and was the scene of a major siege in 1640 which damaged the castle’s exterior and left it partially ruined. The southern wall was largely destroyed in this siege but this damage does little to take away from the imposing might of the castle’s iconic and unique triangular structure.

Today Caerlaverock Castle stands in the centre of picturesque countryside and the surrounding land is even classed as a ‘National Scenic Area’; protected and celebrated for its natural beauty.

The imposing moat, once a fearsome deterrent to attackers and important strategic tool against the undermining of enemies, is now a highlight for visitors and a stunning site all year round – reflecting the glistening sunlight in summer or laced with ice and snow during the winter months.

A trip to Caerlaverock Castle itself offers a lesson in siege warfare and there are many interesting reconstructions of medieval siege engines; exciting educational tools that instantly transport visitors to the battlefield. For families, there’s even a castle-themed adventure park to provide extra entertainment for children, ensuring there always lots to see and do at Caerlaverock!

This site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom. Contributed by Rebecca Lewis

Photo by PhillipC (cc)

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle was an imposing medieval fortress and noble residence, which is now a picturesque ruin not far from Edinburgh.

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Dirleton Castle was an imposing medieval fortress and noble residence, which is now a picturesque ruin not far from Edinburgh.

First built in the thirteenth century by royal steward John de Vaux, Dirleton Castle became the home of the de Vauxes, under whose ownership it was severely damaged and captured on several occasions in the Wars of Independence.

Dirleton Castle would go on to become home to two further noble families, the Haliburtons (circa 1365) and the Ruthvens (circa 1510), each of whom made changes and additions. The Haliburtons left behind some fascinating ruins, including a chapel and an ominous dungeon.

The life of Dirleton Castle as a defensive structure ended in 1650, when it was devastated by the siege of Oliver Cromwell and it was abandoned altogether not long thereafter upon the demise of the Ruthven family.

Now on land owned by the Nisbet family, Dirleton Castle offers a great deal to see. Amongst its highlights are its several towers, some of which were built in the 1240s, making them amongst Scotland’s oldest castle remains. Dirleton Castle is also home to one of the country’s best preserved pigeon houses.

Photo by jgonzac (cc)

Doune Castle

Doune Castle in Perthshire, central Scotland is a 14th century military stronghold built by Robert Stewart, Regent Albany and includes one of the best-preserved great halls in the whole of Scotland.

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Close the Scotland’s geographical centre in the village of Doune in Perthshire, Doune Castle is a medieval castle with one of the best-preserved great halls in Scotland.

It was originally built in the 13th century, most likely damaged during the Scottish Wars of Independence (1296 – 1357) and rebuilt in its present form in the late 14th century.

It was constructed by Robert Stewart, Regent Albany and grandson of Robert the Bruce and has been used over the centuries as a strategic military stronghold seeing action during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Jacobite Risings, a royal hunting lodge and a dower house, traditionally used by the widow of the estate owner.

Ruined by 1800, restoration works were undertaken in the late 19th century and the castle was passed into state care a century later. The striking 29-m high gatehouse includes the Lord’s Hall with domestic quarters, an intricately carved oak screen, musician’s gallery and double fireplace. It’s labyrinthine in nature with rooms connected by spiral staircases and low, narrow doorways. The castle was used extensively in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as in Game of Thrones as Winterfell.

Today, visitors to Doune Castle can re-tread the footsteps of kings, real and fictional, listen to the audio tour narrated by Python Terry Jones and marvel at the views from the battlements of the River Teith and out over the Monteith Hills on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. There’s a gift shop, toilets and parking available.

Photo by baaker2009 (cc)

Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton Castle served as a wartime prison, a royal shelter and a defence against both foreign and local threats.

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Dumbarton Castle was a medieval stronghold which served as a wartime prison, a royal shelter and a defence against both foreign and national threats. Even the site upon which Dumbarton Castle sits -Dumbarton Rock - has an illustrious past. Little survives of the medieval castle - most of it is from the eighteenth century - but this is still a fascinating site to visit.

Mentions of Dumbarton Rock date back to the fifth century AD, when it was called the Rock of the Clyde or "Alt Clut". From this time until the early eleventh century, Dumbarton Rock was the centre of the capital of Strathclyde. There is thought to have been a castle there at the time, which would have defended this British kingdom from ongoing Viking attacks, although there are no visible remains of this.

The building of the medieval Dumbarton Castle began in the 1220, amidst the danger of attacks from Norway. It was constructed under Alexander II of Scotland and was intended to protect the border.

Once the Norwegian threat subsided, Dumbarton would go on to become a royal castle and to play a role in the Wars of Independence. In particular, it is believed that William Wallace was imprisoned here for a short time in 1305 before being taken to his execution in England.

With its slightly more remote location, one other important function of Dumbarton Castle was as a royal escape route. In the fourteenth century, David II sailed from Dumbarton and, in 1548, this was where a young Mary Queen of Scots sought refuge before travelling to France.

Unfortunately, most of what can be seen at Dumbarton today dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - when it was renovated as a garrisoned fort - rather than from the medieval or dark ages.

Photo by gorriti (cc)

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle is a medieval stronghold once captured by Robert the Bruce.

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Dunstaffnage Castle is a medieval stronghold built by the MacDougall clan at a time when Scotland was under constant threat from Norwegian attack. Begun in the 1220s, Dunstaffnage Castle was made of stone and its curtain wall remains a highly impressive and imposing sight.

In the Scottish Wars of Independence, Robert the Bruce laid siege to Dunstaffnage Castle, eventually taking it in 1309. As a result, it would remain in royal hands until the mid-fifteenth century, when it fell under the ownership of the aristocratic Campbell family.

One of the most famous aspects of Dunstaffnage Castle is the fact that it acted as a prison for Flora MacDonald in the eighteenth century. MacDonald was incarcerated there having tried to help the Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from the Red Coats by dressing him as a woman, although she would later be released. Visitors can see the place thought to have been where she was held.

Also visible at Dunstaffnage Castle are the remains of its 13th century chapel.

Photo by Bernt Rostad (cc)

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a medieval fortress and royal castle turned national monument and World Heritage site.

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A royal residence, a vital stronghold and an iconic structure, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world. Known by its English name since the invasion of the Angles in 638AD, the first mentions of Edinburgh Castle occurred in 600 AD during Roman Britain, when it was called “Din Eidyn” or “the fortress of Eidyn”.

Stronghold
However, even before the Angles and the Romans, Edinburgh Castle’s location had served as a vital stronghold for centuries. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence of human settlement on the rock on which the castle sits as early as 900 BC, the late Bronze Age. Over the following centuries, Edinburgh Castle continued to play its role as a crucial defensive structure as well as becoming an integral part of Scotland’s history.

Royal Castle
It initially became a royal castle in the Middle Ages and has since been the site of many significant events in royal and military history. As a royal residence, Edinburgh Castle was the site of the birth of King James VI, also James I of England from 1603, to Mary Queen of Scots in 1566. Visitors can still see the small room where this monarch was born. However, Edinburgh Castle’s main role was a military fortification.

Tug of War
From as early as the thirteenth century, Edinburgh Castle was a focal point of the war between England and Scotland. Captured by Edward I of England following a three-day siege, Edinburgh Castle was then the subject of a tug of war between the warring countries, swapping hands numerous times in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries until the Scots took it back again in 1341.

By this time, much of the original castle had been destroyed, to be rebuilt under the order of David II, who later died in Edinburgh Castle in 1371. However, the buildings of Edinburgh Castle were to suffer further destruction in battle and David’s Tower, which was built in honour of David II, was razed during the Lang Siege. The final siege at Edinburgh Castle would take place in 1745, carried out by the Jacobites.

Prison
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Edinburgh Castle found itself fulfilling a new role: as a prison. It housed prisoners from numerous wars, including the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

Iconic Site
Today, visitors to Edinburgh Castle can explore the castle’s history through a series of guided tours and exhibitions.

Amongst its many attractions are the Scottish National War Memorial and National War Museum, the Mons Meg, a giant cannon gifted to James II in 1457 and the Great Hall, built by James VI in 1511. Royal exhibitions include The Honours of Scotland jewels which, along with Scotland’s coronation stone, the Stone of Destiny, can be found in the castle’s Crown Room. Edinburgh Castle is also home to the oldest building in the city, the 12th-century St Margaret’s Chapel.

Photo by Andy Hawkins (cc)

Inchcolm Abbey

Inchcolm Abbey is a well-preserved twelfth century Augustinian monastery turned abbey located in an important defensive position.

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Inchcolm Abbey was established as an Augustinian monastery in the twelfth century by David I, becoming an abbey in 1235. During the wars between England and Scotland, the location of Inchcolm Abbey meant that it was constantly under attack.

The island of Inchcolm Abbey continued to play a defensive role in the Napoleonic Wars and up to the Second World War. Despite its turbulent history, Inchcolm Abbey remains remarkably intact. Its thirteenth century cloisters are celebrated as some of the most well-preserved of their kind and visitors can even see a rare funereal fresco from the same period.

Photo by Historvius

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is an iconic royal palace, a medieval stronghold and a focal point for many of the most important events in Scotland’s history.

DID YOU KNOW?

Stirling Castle is an iconic royal palace and stronghold, seen to represent Scottish independence and a focal point for many of the most important events in Scotland’s history.

Famous Events at Stirling Castle

It was the site of royal deaths such as that of King Alexander I in 1124 and William I in 1214, the subject of a tug of war between the English and the Scottish during the Wars of Scottish Independence and even the scene of an assassination. This latter event, the murder of William the eighth Earl of Douglas, occurred when he was invited to dinner there in 1452. A skeleton found at the castle in the eighteenth century is believed to have been his.

During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Stirling Castle was fought over by some of the most famous figures in Scottish and English history, including William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

Royal events at Stirling Castle included the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots (1543) and the baptism of her son, James VI (1566), both at the Chapel Royal.

Strategic Location

At least part of the reason for the prominence of Stirling Castle over the centuries must be attributed to its location. Situated atop the flat top of an ancient volcano, it forms an imposing sight and a formidable stronghold. Furthermore, it is located at a vital strategic point at the centre of various routes across Scotland.

Architecture

The first mention of Stirling Castle dates to 1110, when Alexander I endowed a chapel there, but many believe the site has been fortified since prehistoric times (although this is disputed).

The current grand incarnation of Stirling Castle mostly dates from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries onwards. Some of the highlights include the King’s Old Building, constructed in 1496 for James IV, the Great Hall, which was medieval Scotland’s largest banqueting hall built by James IV in the early sixteenth century and the Royal Palace, built by James V in around 1540.

One of the most well-known parts of Stirling Castle is its Forework Gate, a turreted stone fortification built by James IV in the early sixteenth century.

Visiting the castle

Today, Stirling Castle offers tours around its buildings and grounds. Visitors can tour with an audio guide or with a tour guide and there are a range of exhibitions to see. Not least of these is the Regimental Museum, a military museum dedicated to the Argyll