Doune Castle History
Doune Castle was built at the end of the
fourteenth century by Robert Stewart, first duke of Albany and earl of Menteith and
Castle represented the principal stronghold of the earldom of
Menteith. It was protected on the north by a dry ditch, and a series of earthworks impede the
approach of enemies from the south.
On the west is the River Teith, and on the east, Ardoch Burn. Surrounded by
both natural and man-made defenses, the castle itself also projects an imposing aura of
strength and power.
The dark stone rises to a high of 30 metres at the gate-tower
and the high courtyard walls were protected by wall walks allowing defenders to drop material
onto attackers from machicolated boxes projecting from the walls.
The gate-tower was both principle residence and strongest part
of the castle. The entrance was defended by both wooden and metal doors, the original outer
gate survives and consists of an iron grille which would have been secured with a huge oak
beam. The guard chamber has arrow-slits to further protect the entrance.
There are further rooms above the gate, for storage and
accommodation and there is an opening to the hall within the tower proper. From the courtyard,
it can be seen that the tower and the adjoining hall were constructed concurrently, with the
mason's marks corresponding.
Above the gateway are three stories, two with round-headed
windows and on top, smaller, square cut windows. The large hall runs west of the tower, and is
above a row of three barrel-vaulted undercrofts, one of which now contains an exhibition of the
history of Doune. Further to the west is the kitchen tower, built into the castle
You can see from the courtyard that the original intention was
to have further buildings around the walls - there are large decorated windows in the south
wall and on the kitchen tower, stone tusks to key into another wall.
Inside the tower-gate, some rooms were restored in the
nineteenth century, in a suitably medieval style. As you wander round the rooms, small passages
and staircases lead off in what seems like every direction. The main rooms are large and
spacious; the lord could have entertained in some style. Garderobes, fireplaces and recessed
windows are all to be explored.
In the upper hall is an alcove lit by a large window. Here was
the chapel, and the stone piscina and credence can still be seen. The great hall seems huge
within the castle as a whole, it measures 8.3 by 20.4 metres and would have been used for the
public functions of the castle.
From here the buttery connects to the kitchen, a high barrel
vaulted room with openings over the windows and in the roof above the chimney head for
ventilation. A door leads down a flight of stone steps directly into the
The builder of Doune, Robert Stewart, was the
third son of King Robert II, and younger brother to Robert III, but it was he who was the
effectual ruler between 1388 and his death in 1420. After the succession of his son Murdoch,
the exiled King James I returned and Murdoch was executed.
Doune became formally a royal castle, being used as hunting
lodge, country retreat and dower house for three queens of Scotland. In 1570, the keeper, Sir
James Stewart, was created Lord Doune and through his marriage, he became Earl of
Doune Castle Today
Doune has remained in the hands of the earls or Moray since
then. In 1883, the fourteenth earl restored the castle with the architect Andrew
More repairs were done in the 1970's, and the present repairs
are being carried out under the auspices of Historic Scotland, who now own the