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Experience Scotland’s incredible history this summer

As an ancient land, there’s no better way to marvel at Scotland’s fascinating past than with a visit to one of these magnificent historic homes.

Famed for its colourful and complex history, nothing immortalises Scotland’s past quite like the spectacular homes that still dominate its beautiful landscapes today.

Whether you long to visit one of its imposing castles, where you can walk in the footsteps of kings and queens, or want to roam the pristine grounds of a stately country house, Scotland is packed with architectural treasures that are sure to transport you back in time.

Here are just some of the historic homes you’ll enjoy exploring...

The Black Watch Castle & Museum, Perth

©Angus Forbes / Alamy Stock Photo

The Black Watch Castle & Museum, Perth

Since its formation in 1739 to the amalgamation of the Regiment in 2006, The Black Watch has played a pivotal role in Scotland’s military history. From its early years keeping ‘watch’ over the Highlands, right through to the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the regiment has witnessed and contributed to many key moments in world history.

And a visit to the ancestral home of Scotland’s oldest Highlands Regiment vibrantly brings these moments to life with its outstanding museum. Located in the historic Balhousie Castle, the origins of which are said to date back to the 12th century, you’ll feel fully immersed in its history as you marvel at artefacts, paintings, photographs, personal stories and even interactive displays.

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle, near Drumnadrochit Highlands

Set on the banks of picturesque Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s largest castles and acted as a medieval fortress for 500 years. Control of the castle went back and forth between the Scots and the English during the Wars of Independence, and it was blown up in 1692, with only some of its remains still standing today.

With its sweeping views of Scotland’s most famous loch and a treasure trove of medieval artefacts, this remarkable castle is simply breathtaking.

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle, Argyll

If you’re a fan of Downtown Abbey, then you will recognise this next attraction as it featured in the period drama’s 2012 Christmas special! Designed by Roger Morris and decorated by Robert Mylne, Inveraray Castle is the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll and Chiefs of Clan Campbell, whose family have resided in Inveraray since the early 15th century. The castle’s fairy-tale façade, enchanting interior and magnificent views from the Watchtower certainly make it a magical place to visit.

Ballindalloch Castle

Ballindalloch Castle, Banffshire

Located in the heart of Speyside, Scotland’s most prolific whisky region, Ballindalloch Castle is one of the few private castles in Scotland that has been lived in continuously by the family which founded it, the Macpherson-Grants. Originally a fortified tower house that was erected circa 1546, Ballindalloch underwent a significant period of renovation and extension during the Victorian era which transformed it into the sumptuous country retreat that stands today.

Highlights include a fine collection of 17th-century Spanish paintings, one of the finest country house libraries in all of Scotland and the delightful nursery with its antique toys. The beautifully maintained walled and rock gardens are also spectacular when in full bloom and offer a tranquil haven during the summer months.

Mellerstain House & Gardens

Mellerstain House & Gardens, Roxburghshire

Set within 100 acres of parkland and with impressive views of the Cheviot Hills, Mellerstain House & Gardens is nothing short of magnificent. Regarded as one of the famous architect Robert Adams’ masterpieces, the Georgian mansion house was built in two stages – two wings in 1725 by Scottish architect William Adam, followed by the construction of the large central block in 1778 by his son Robert Adam.

Today Mellerstain House & Gardens showcases a grand collection of fine art, period furniture, china and embroidery collections. While the House is closed to visitors until 2021, its magnificent grounds, including a sculpture park, and beautiful terraced gardens are now open to explore.

Thirlestane Castle

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder

Once the ancient seat of the Earls and Duke of Lauderdale, the 16th-century Thirlestane Castle is one of the oldest and finest inhabited (the Maitland family now call it home) castles in Scotland. It now even boasts five-star accommodation in the South Wing.

When you visit, you’ll be able to marvel at the fine furnishings, pictures and many of the Maitland family’s precious pieces. The Entrance Hall, meanwhile, is home to a collection of weapons dating from 1745, and the State Dining Room houses one of the largest collections of family portraits in the country.

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Ready to start planning your Scottish adventure, or to discover even more of the nation’s spectacular historic homes?