Doune Castle is a medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, lying 8 miles north-west of Stirling. It was originally built in the 13th century, then probably damaged in the Scottish Wars of Independence, before being rebuilt in its present form in the late 14th century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’ the son of King Robert II (grandson of Robert the Bruce).
Doune Castle was built to reflect what a royal castle building should be, with a courtyard with buildings all around, a large tower house with rooms for the Lord and his family and another tower containing the kitchen and guest rooms, both linked by the great hall.
Many Scottish notables frequented Doune Castle. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed there, occupying the warm rooms above the kitchen. Her son, King James visited on occasion and ordered renovations in 1580. And Charles Edward Stuart (aka Bonnie Prince Charlie) occupied the castle with his Highlanders during the famous Jacobite Rising of 1745, before they were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Culloden.
And in most recent times, Doune Castle has become one of the most famous filming locations in Scotland. Today, you can walk in the footsteps of rulers both real and fictional.
The castle’s taste of fame was first seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in fact the audio tour which is available is narrated by actor and director Terry Jones, who provides an exciting story of Doune’s history as well as takes from the Holy Grail film set.
It also briefly featured in the award winning TV show Game of Thrones- the castle was set as Winterfell for the pilot episode.
Most famously Doune Castle is known as Castle Leoch in the hit show Outlander. We first see it featuring in the 20th century when Claire and Frank visit the castle ruins on a day trip. And it appears several more times in season 1 as the seat of Clan Mackenzie.
Much of the castle was used in filming. The huge courtyard, and great hall were used to great effect, as well as the surrounding grounds. An exception was the Doune Castle kitchen. An exact replica was built in the nearby Outlander studios, as the production did not want to damage any of the walls with lighting and rigs, this is told on the audio guide in an extended version by Sam Heughan- Jamie Fraser.
1 Apr to 30 Sept: 9.30am to 5.30pm 1 Oct to 31 Mar: 10am to 4pm
Closed 25 and 26 December, 1 and 2 January
£6.00 per adult or included in the Historic Scotland membership pass
Doune Castle is a wonderful castle to explore and well worth a visit!