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Castles of Scotland
Lochleven Castle

Lochleven CastleOn an island in Loch Leven reached by ferry from Kinross off the M90. Tel: 01786 450000

Mary Queen of Scots endured nearly a year of imprisonment in this 14th-century tower before her dramatic escape in May 1568. During the first War of Independence it was held by the English, stormed by Wallace and visited by Bruce.

The Island fortress of Loch Leven Castle probably takes its name from the eleven rivers flowing into the Loch. The Island itself is said to have been four times smaller than it is at present, which would mean that the waters of the loch would almost have reached up to the Castle walls.

The Castle first appears in the 1290ís as an English fortification, possibly of wood, on the island during King Edward I of Englandís attempts to hammer the Scots. However, some time before 1305 William Wallace attacked the island fortress at night killing all thirty English men and their five women.

The Castle was still in Scottish hands in 1313 when Robert the Bruce visited the Castle. In fact Robert the Bruce was the first to use it as a state prison incarcerating the rebel John of Lorn there in 1316.

In 1335 the castle was attacked by the English Governor of Edinburgh Castle, however, the castle was stoutly defended by the governor Alan Vipont and John Douglas of Dalkeith, whose descendants were to become Lords of the Castle right up to the seventeenth century.

Around 1350 the stone tower house was added to the island and later a stone courtyard wall.

After the Battle of Carberry on the 15th June 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots, surrendered to the rebel lords and was sent to be a prisoner at the island Castle for almost a year. With the help of young William Douglas, Queen Mary escaped on the 2nd May 1568. Shortly after her escape she rallied her supporters but was decisively defeated at the Battle of Langside.

In 1672 the Castle was sold to Sir William Bruce of Balcastie, who was designer of the reworking of Holyrood House for Charles II. In 1690 Bruce built Kinross House on the mainland and abandoned the island castle which then fell into disrepair.

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