Doune Castle

Date: late fourteenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Scotland
Description: Overlooking the River Teith, Doune Castle was built (or substantially upgraded) in the late fourteenth century by Robert Stewart, the first Duke of Albany (ca. 1340–1420). It served as a military stronghold and residence for the nobleman, his family, courtiers, and visitors. The castle’s defensive function is signaled by the imposing gatehouse tower, from which sentries could survey the surrounding area; there is a heavy iron gate at the entrance. Inside the courtyard are functional spaces, such as storage cellars; upstairs is the kitchen, with a huge fireplace and stones deeply gouged from sharpening knives and spits. The attached servery (with two large pass-through windows) led into the great hall, the castle’s largest room. Here the duke could preside over feasts in a room with a central brazier and a hole in the wooden roof that let smoke escape. Minstrels played in a gallery high on one side, and the duke had a private toilet nearby. Nearby were sleeping chambers, a small prayer space, and garderobes—toilet holes—in the exterior wall.

Robert Stewart was the third son of King Robert II of Scotland; after his father’s death he was the power behind the throne during the reign of his older brother, Robert III (d. 1406), and his nephew, James I, who was held hostage in England from 1406 to 1424. Doune Castle passed to the royal family and was later part of the dowry given by James III to Margaret of Denmark in exchange for the Orkney and Shetland Islands. It is most recognizable today because it was used as Camelot, Swamp Castle, and Castle Anthrax in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and as Castle Leoch in Outlander (2014).
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 10
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons; Fickr; Adam S. Cohen; Linda Safran

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