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Castle of Thousands

Press release   •   Dec 14, 2017 09:19 GMT

Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland

With research* revealing that almost half (49%) of Brits have never visited a Scottish Castle, VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to get castle-bagging.

The research - which comes as the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology comes to a close - also reveals that the Queen’s Holiday Home, Balmoral Castle, is Scotland’s second best-known castle (53%) after the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which 80% of British people were aware of.

Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland was voted the most romantic-looking castle** with over a quarter (29%) of the votes, followed by Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire (16%) and popular visitor favourite Eilean Donan Castle in the Highlands (12%).

On the opposite side of the scale, Slains Castle in Peterhead was voted as the most likely to be haunted with almost a quarter of votes (22%), followed closely by the iconic Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven (19%) and in third place, Brodick Castle (12%) on Arran.

The best castle in Scotland accolade went to Edinburgh Castle with over a third of the votes (39%) ahead of Stirling (5%), Urquhart (2%) and St Andrews Castles (2%).

Seven out of ten people (72%) stated they would like to stay overnight in a castle while on holiday in Scotland which is good news for around 145 castles that have been converted into hotels throughout the country.

In total, Scotland is thought to have around 3000 standing castles, ruins and documented sites. Of these, about 1050 are merely sites, including those where a house has been built on the site of a previous castle and about 825 are standing ruins. At the last count, around 660 were in use (private house, hotel or wedding venue) and around 469 were open to the public, though some only for a couple of weeks each year.***

Aberdour Castle in Fife and Castle Sween in Argyll are thought to be two of the oldest datable standing castles in Scotland, dating from around 1200 and the youngest castle in Scotland is thought to be Carbisdale Castle which was built in 1907.

From World Heritage Sites to listed buildings, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology has celebrated 270 events across the Scotland and a wealth of activity including workshops, competitions and new products developed in celebration of the year.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive said:

“Castles are an iconic and integral part of Scotland’s history and culture. From the grandiose castles of Stirling and Edinburgh to the remote charms of Eilean Donan and Castle Stalker– there is something unique and special about every single one and each has their own significant story to tell.

Scotland’s history and culture is one the top reasons for visiting Scotland. From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends – the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology has shone a spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a Scottish castle in their lifetime, so we would encourage everyone to make it their mission - to bag a Scottish castle and a Munro on their visit here!”

To discover more about Scotland’s Castles, visit:

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2194 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th - 21st February 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

**Respondents were shown promotional shots of castles to decide on most romantic and most haunted looking.

***Estimated stats based on various sources, with help from

Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
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  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017