In Scotland the word castle denotes a variety of structures. In most
cases, one will not find castles that fit the usual concept, that of
crenellated (square indentations, or openings) battlements and towers.
Remember that the idea of a castle was a fortified structure (castle –
from the Latin castellum,
fortress), and the fortified structures of Scotland take many a
The evolution of castle design and building in Scotland began
with the motte and bailey. These were a fortified hill (motte)
on which was built a keep of wood or stone, overlooking the
bailey, an enclosed courtyard usually surrounded by a wooden
These gave way to tower houses, stone buildings of several
stories, windowless on the ground floor for defensive purposes.
Numerous tower houses remain today, many of them used as a
residence or rental property. Often defending walls, courtyards
and other wings were added to the tower house to form what one
would typically think of as a castle. An example is shown above,
in the graphic of Castle Campbell. The original tower house lies
to the right. A defensive wall forming a courtyard extends to
the left. The east range, or wing, was added later and forms
part of the wall seen directly in the center of the graphic.
Later, the designation of castle was given to manors and estate
houses, both large and small. Two examples are Inveraray
Castle, home of MacCailein Mor, Chief of Clan Campbell, and Culzean Castle, previously
home to the Kennedy chief and now in the hands of the National
Trust for Scotland. In both cases, the buildings are more
palatial homes than castles.