Castle Campbell, Clackmannanshire
Castle Campbell is perched on a high ridge between two deep ravines. It is a breathtaking setting
Previously known as Castle Gloom and hemmed in on either side by the Burn of Care and the Burn of Sorrow, you could be forgiven for thinking that Castle Campbell is like something out of a horror film. Yet even on a blustery day, it is a beautiful rather than a scary place, a favourite with families and anyone who likes a country walk. You can park at the village of Dollar or in car parks higher up the glen, and take one of the paths that skirt chasms and allow tantalising glimpses of the delightful 15th‑century castle.
The building itself is one of Scotland’s best-preserved tower-house castles, its earliest sections dating from the 15th century. Around 1465 it passed through marriage to Colin Campbell, First Earl of Argyll, who wanted an impressive Lowland seat and obviously didn’t mind the walk. He changed the name to Castle Campbell and it stayed in the family for the next 200 years, during which time it played host to John Knox, the Protestant preacher, in 1556, and Mary Queen of Scots in 1563.
Although a southwest corner of the castle grounds is called ‘John Knox’s pulpit’, there is little reason to believe that Knox preached from this particular, precipitous spot.
Today, the most commanding section of the castle is the 20-metre tower house whose wall walk affords dramatic views. The hall and chamber range, facing onto the terraced gardens, are roofless and partly ruined, while the upper floors of the east range contain the steward’s private flat.
Don’t miss: A pair of grotesque ‘green man’ ceiling carvings on the top floor of the tower house.
Open 1 Apr–30 Sep daily 9.30am–5.30pm;
1 Oct–31 Mar Sat–Wed 9.30am–4.30pm
Adults £4.70, concs £3.70, children £2.35
Stirling tourist information: 0870 720 0620
Enhance the festive season with a subscription to BBC History Magazine + David Mitchell's latest masterpiece UNRULY - signed and hardback!
As a print subscriber you will also get FREE access to HistoryExtra.com worth £34.99