This page was last updated on 04 March 2022

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

Doune Castle



Doune Castle was built around 1400 by Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, Earl of Menteith and Fife. Younger brother of the weak and feeble Robert III, he was the effective ruler of the kingdom from 1388 until his death in 1420. He is known to history as ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’, and his seat at Doune was virtually a royal castle.

Only after Albany’s death did Doune Castle finally gain the status its builder had desired – it became a kingly residence. It never rivalled the great royal castles at Stirling and Edinburgh. Rather, it was used as a royal retreat from the burdens of state, a pleasant summer residence where the royal family could relax and hunt in the nearby forests in the Trossachs. Only when James VI left for London in 1603, to become James I of England also, did Doune’s role as royal retreat effectively come to an end.

A near-contemporary, Abbot Bower of Inchcolm, described Albany as ‘a big spender’. Albany certainly spared no expense on Doune. Even in its ruined state the castle inspires awe and wonder in those who visit it.

Exceptionally at Doune, we have a castle planned in a single episode. Almost all other great castles surviving today were the work of many hands over several centuries. Doune is essentially one coherent design. This gives the visitor a wonderful opportunity to see what the leading man of his day felt was appropriate for his needs and aspirations. This was an age when the conspicuous display of wealth and status was seen as vital in maintaining authority and good governance.

Albany’s vision for four ranges of buildings set around a central court was never completed. We shall never know what he planned for the south range, though the surviving windows suggest something grand. The principal accommodation was housed in the range along the north and west sides. This main range is as perfect a piece of medieval castle planning as one will find anywhere.

A lofty tower, the gate tower, provided the duke and duchess with a spacious four-storey apartment, with its own defended courtyard entrance and independent access from its first-floor ‘duke’s hall’ into the dais end of the great hall. At the other end of the great hall was the kitchen tower, smaller than the gate tower but housing an impressive kitchen and two floors of respectable lodging space. The entire ground floor was taken up by storage cellars.

Doune’s cathedral-like great hall impresses most. Measuring 170 sq m it rises 11m to the roof. Standing therein, the visitor begins to appreciate why Albany was described as a man noted for his ‘large tabling and belly cheer’!

See: Dunbars Vs Douglas


Not to be confused with Loch Doon Castle

Bookmark and Share



Any contributions to this item will be gratefully accepted


Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


Many articles are stubs which would benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.


If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


2 Minute Survey

To provide feedback on the website, please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey.


We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

Help with costs

Maintaining the three sections of the site has its costs.  Any contribution the defray them is very welcome



If you would like to receive a very occasional newsletter - Sign up!



Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024