Doune Castle might evoke a sense of déjà vu, even for those who haven’t visited before, due to its appearances in various films. Movie buffs, particularly Monty Python enthusiasts, flock to this castle from around the globe to experience the location where scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed. Coconut shells are even provided at the reception for fans to recreate the iconic horse galloping sound effect from the film. Other filming locations for the movie included Castle Stalker in Argyll, Kidwelly Castle in Wales, and Bodiam Castle in East Sussex.
Doune Castle also resonates with a newer audience as it was used as Castle Leoch in the TV adaptation of the Outlander series and served as Winterfell for the pilot episode of Game of Thrones.
Aside from its cinematic fame, Doune Castle has a rich history. Constructed in the late 14th century for Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, the exact date of its creation remains uncertain, and its final form is thought to deviate from the original plan. Nonetheless, the structure fulfilled all military and domestic necessities of a royal castle. Robert Stewart, who ruled Scotland from 1388 until his death in 1420, held the titles of Earl of Menteith and Fife through marriage to Margaret, Countess of Menteith.
In 1420, control of Scotland passed to Murdoch, Robert Stewart’s son. His reign, however, was brief as James I reclaimed power in 1424 after his release from English captivity. Doune Castle then served as a royal hunting lodge and retreat, used by a succession of monarchs for over a century.
Ownership of the castle transferred to Sir James Stewart, the first Lord Doune, in 1570. The title Earl of Moray was later acquired by the castle’s occupants through marriage. Doune Castle has been the property of the Earls of Moray ever since. Restoration work was carried out in 1883 and 1970, and in 1984, the 20th Earl of Moray entrusted the castle to the nation. It is now under the care of Historic Environment Scotland.
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