Nestled within the picturesque countryside of Stirlingshire, Doune Castle stands as a testament to the nation’s mediaeval history. This architectural marvel, shrouded in tales of kings, queens, and warring clans, offers a captivating journey back in time for any curious tourist. In this article, we’ll walk the stone corridors of Doune Castle to delve deep into its history, explore its starring role in popular culture, and unveil the mystery and allure that this gem of an attraction continues to hold.
|1st April - 31st October
Thursday - Monday: 10:00 - 17:00
|1 Apr to 30 Sept: Daily, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, last entry is 4.30 pm
1 Oct to 31 Mar: Daily, 10 am to 4 pm, last entry is 3 pm
|Free car park on-site
|01786 841 742
|Toilets, gift shop, picnic area, partial disabled access, drinks machine
|Click here to purchase
The mediaeval Doune Castle has been a formidable presence near the village of Doune in Perthshire since its construction in the 14th century. The Duke of Albany and the Earl of Moray once lived in the castle, which is still remarkably well preserved. Sadly, it fell into disrepair in the 18th century, but Historic Environment Scotland now owns and manages it and has done an amazing job of restoring it.
Due to its tranquil setting in the woods close to the River Teith, the castle has grown in popularity with tourists, and its extensive network of rooms and corridors is sure to keep all ages occupied during a visit.
The castle walls are almost completely intact, which goes a long way towards explaining why it has made so many screen appearances over the years. Most recently, the Outlander TV series has proven incredibly popular on both sides of the Atlantic and has brought in a new generation that is keen to explore the ruins of this historic fortress.
But there’s more to see at Doune Castle than television references because this 650-year-old building features a striking gatehouse that’s well over 100 feet high, one of the best-preserved great halls in Scotland, and offers stunning views of Ben Lomond from its battlements. It’s certainly easy to see why the Regent of Albany chose it as his seat of power all those years ago.
1: Doune Castle’s history is a highlight, with connections to Robert Stewart, the Duke of Albany, and later, Mary Queen of Scots. The castle gives you a glimpse into the past and offers impressive insights into mediaeval architecture and living conditions.
2: Doune Castle has been featured in several popular films and TV shows, including ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ movie and the ‘Outlander’ TV series. Fans of these shows go to the castle to see where the movies were filmed and get lost in the worlds of the shows they love.
3: The castle is located amidst beautiful Scottish landscapes. Visitors can climb the castle’s tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, including the River Teith and the wooded hills of the Trossachs. This combination of historical architecture and natural beauty makes visiting Doune Castle a unique experience.
1: Doune Castle is a famous filming location, but this popularity can lead to enormous crowds, especially during peak tourist season. Check the castle’s opening times on the official website, and try to arrive early in the day to avoid the busiest times. It’s also worth checking for any special events or closures that might affect your visit.
2: A top-notch audio guide with Terry Jones of Monty Python fame is included with your entry fee, which provides fascinating insights into the castle’s history as well as a few hilarious tales from the film set.
3: The Scottish weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to dress appropriately. Comfortable shoes are a must, as the castle grounds are uneven and can be slippery when wet. The castle is partially exposed to the elements, so bring an umbrella or raincoat if rain is forecast.
The castle is not only famed for its royal connections but also for its use as a film location, and fans of Monty Python will no doubt recognise it as the setting for many of the scenes in the movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail, while more recent shows include the incredibly popular fantasy saga Game of Thrones.
Doune Castle should be on your must-see list if you’re a fan of Monty Python, because Terry Jones’ audio narration not only educates listeners about the castle’s extensive history but is guaranteed to amuse with hilarious stories from the Holy Grail film set.
Outlander fans, meanwhile, will be happy to learn that Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie in the series, narrates a new portion of the tour where he explains how sections of the castle were converted into Castle Leoch. It’s interesting stuff, and I’m glad that when I visited, some of the TV sets were still in place because it really was like stepping back in time.
Doune village is located just 5 miles from Stirling Castle so it’s possible to combine the two fortresses in a single day. History buffs, in particular, might find themselves immersed in the story of the castle for longer than expected as Historic Environment Scotland provides visitors with lots of information panels to read, meaning a self-guided tour can last most of an afternoon.
At the end of your visit you can head outside the castle walls to explore the quiet banks of the River Teith and the surrounding woodland which are great for walks at all times of the year.
Only slightly further away is the historic town of Doune, which has some good-quality cafés, while the city of Stirling has plenty of restaurants and bars if you fancy staying in the area a little longer to visit the mighty Stirling Castle and nearby Wallace Monument. My top recommendation, though, is to drive the 15-minute journey on the A820 to Dunblane and its magnificent 12th-century cathedral.
Things to Do
Audio Tour: Immerse yourself in Scotland’s history with a self-guided tour of Doune Castle. Each room has a tale to tell, with the grand Great Hall, Duke’s Hall, and formidable castle walls providing captivating insights into mediaeval life. Sam Heughan of Outlander and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame are the narrators of the audio guide, which is priceless.
Outlander Themed Visit: As the shooting location of the popular TV series ‘Outlander’, Doune Castle offers fans a chance to step into the world of their favourite characters. You can explore the castle’s many rooms used in the series, including the huge courtyard and the Great Hall.
Wildlife Spotting: Doune Castle is an ideal place to visit for wildlife enthusiasts. The surrounding woodland is teeming with birds and small animals and there’s a good chance you’ll catch sight of roe deer, red squirrels, or even an otter on the nearby River Teith.
Photography Session: With its imposing stone walls, lush surrounding landscape, and the River Teith flowing nearby, Doune Castle offers plenty of angles for photographers. Capture the castle’s dramatic exterior and its atmospheric interiors, or snap a few photos from the footpath that runs alongside it.
Picnic by the River Teith: After a day of sightseeing, unwind with a picnic by the River Teith. The serene riverside setting offers good views of the castle, making it a perfect spot to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures. Just remember to respect the environment and leave no trace behind.
Things to Do Nearby
Blair Drummond Safari Park. Blair Drummond, Stirling FK9 4UR. 9-minute drive.
Wildlife safari park that includes animal enclosures, a boating lake, a children’s play park and bird of prey displays. Briarlands Farm petting zoo is located behind the safari park.
Bracklinn Falls. 17-minute drive.
The forest surrounding Callander offers superb walks on rough paths that extend throughout the wooded area. The Bracklinn Falls are a series of natural waterfalls that can be seen from the banks of the Allt a Choire Bhric River, and there is a purpose-built wooden bridge near the falls that joins paths that head into the heart of the forest.
Deanston Distillery. Teith Rd, Deanston, Doune FK16 6AG. 5-minute drive.
A late 18th-century whisky distillery sited on the banks of the River Teith near Doune village. The distillery offers visitors guided tours around the distillery complex as well as tasting experiences, a well-stocked shop and a café.
Callander. Stirling FK17 8BA. 15-minute drive.
A Highland village that offers a selection of traditional shops and pubs as well as a selection of cafés and restaurants. Several walking trails start and finish at Callander, mostly centred around the River Teith.
Dunblane Museum Trust. The Cross, Dunblane FK15 0AQ. 11-minute drive.
A free-to-visit volunteer-run museum that was founded in 1943. The museum houses a fascinating collection of artefacts and displays that portray the history and heritage of Dunblane and the surrounding area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Doune Castle worth visiting?
Doune Castle is definitely worth visiting. The castle features one of the best-preserved curtain walls in Scotland and offers beautiful views from the battlements across the Menteith Hills.
In addition, the audio guide is one of the best available for a Scottish castle, as it features commentary from Terry Jones (Monty Python) and Sam Heughan (Outlander).
Who owns Doune Castle Scotland?
Historic Environment Scotland is in charge of managing and owning Doune Castle.
What has been filmed at Doune Castle?
Game of Thrones (TV series), Outlander (TV series), Outlaw King (film), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (film), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (film), Ivanhoe (film), The Bruce (film), The Wizard of Oz (2015 film).
What was Doune Castle in Outlander?
Doune Castle portrayed Castle Leoch (seat of Clan MacKenzie) in Outlander.