Doune Castle, Perthshire
8 miles North West of Stirling
This impressive fortress of Doune Castle was built in the late fourteenth century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, who effectively ruled Scotland during the reign of King Robert III and while King James I was imprisoned in England.
The castle is located in the valley of the River Teith and its strategic importance was recognised as early as Roman times.
Guarding one of the main routes between Stirling and the Highlands, Doune Castle played and important role in governing Scotland.
The gate-tower is the strongest point of the castle with the entrance protected by gates and arrow slits in the walls. Above the entrance is the lord's hall which is reached by a staircase from inside the courtyard. The castle is also protected by two rivers and a dry ditch.
The castle is easily reached from the car park opposite. It is not until you walk up to the castle you get a true appreciation of scale of the gate-tower which is truly awesome. The great hall is very impressive as is the courtyard. Well worth a visit.
~ History ~
1398 - Robert Stewart begins the building of Doune Castle, as Regent of Scotland during the years of his brother Robert III.
1420 - Robert Stewart dies and his son Murdoch succeeds him as Regent of Scotland.
1424 - King James is freed from imprisonment in England and upon his return to Scotland Murdoch, his son Alexander, and his powerful father-in-law the Earl of Lennox, are beheaded on a charge of unconstitutional violence and their lands are confiscated. The castle becomes a Royal Hunting lodge.
1528 - The castle is given back to the descendants of Albany and from these to the Earls of Moray.
1570 - The castle is held for the exiled Mary Queen of Scots against the Regent Lennox but is surrendered without bloodshed following a three-day blockade. Later in the year its keeper, Sir James Stewart, is created Lord Doune.
1592 - Sir James's son marries a daughter of the Regent Moray and is created Earl of Moray by James VI.
1593 - The King hears of a plot against himself being hatched within the castle and arrives suddenly. The Earls of Montrose and Gowie are arrested, though the Duke of Atholl escapes.
1645 - The castle is occupied by Montrose during a period of rebellion and skirmishes between royal forces and Cromwellian cavalry.
1689 - Government forces garrison the castle during the Jacobite uprising for King William III.
1715 - The castle is again garrisoned by government troops during another uprising by Jacobite forces.
1745 - Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie capture the castle and use it as a prison. Some of the prisoners escape by knotting together bedsheets and climbing from the kitchen window.
1746 - Following the Battle of Falkirk prisoners are taken by the Jacobite's to Doune, including a young Reverend John Witherspoon who later emigrates to America and becomes one of the architects of the Declaration of Independence.