Brodick Castle, Arran – Clan Hamilton
Standing in the shadow of Goatfell, Brodick Castle is a former clan stronghold of the Hamilton family, located on the Isle of Arran.
Believed to have been first used by the Vikings as a site of defence, the Norse warriors would eventually be removed from the island in the aftermath of Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Largs in 1263. The basic outpost would then be turned into a castle by the Stewarts of Menteith, protected by a steep slope and a water-filled ditch, in addition to its natural protection as an island outpost.
The castle would eventually be taken by the English at the beginning of the Scottish Wars of Independence and was held by the invaders until 1307. Retaining a turbulent history throughout the rest of its life, it would then be damaged by a further English invasion in 1406 and an attack by John MacDonald II, Lord of the Isles, in 1455.
It would be after gaining those battle scars that the castle would come under the control of its most famous owners, the Hamiltons. Wasting no time in putting their mark on the area, the family would immediately rebuild the structure before it was again attacked by usurpers in 1528 and 1544, forcing a further rebuild. Sadly, the castle would continue to suffer in the subsequent years as it was captured by the Campbells and then retaken by the Hamiltons before suffering at the hands of Oliver Cromwell.
It is during the years under the control of Oliver Cromwell that the castle would begin to expand to its current size as it was almost doubled. However, the current cosmetic design of the castle would only be finished in 1844, and it is this design that visitors will be familiar with today.
It is in 1844 that the Hamilton family would make Brodick one of their primary residences as advances in transport made the Island of Arran more accessible than before. Using this to their advantage, the clan would commission Edinburgh architect, James Gillespie Graham, to double the size of the building, adding its now-iconic southwest tower.
After the finalisation of its current design, the castle would be passed down through the generations of the Hamilton family until it was transferred to the control of the National Trust in 1957 under the instructions of Mary, Dutchess of Montrose.
Today, it serves as a major tourist attraction on Arran, with a perfectly preserved interior, visitor centre, tea room and gardens. It is well worth a visit for anyone holidaying on the Island or even just as a day trip from the mainland, as it can be accessed via the ferry from Ardrossan.