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A History and Guide to Scottish Castles (Hardback)

Colour Books P&S History > Archaeology P&S History > British History P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval History Photographic Books World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Jenna Maxwell
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 80 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781399016131
Published: 16th January 2023



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At one time, Scotland was home to more than 4,000 castles. It’s an extraordinary number for such a small country and today, around 3,000 still stand.

Some are world famous, others have inspired great works of literature, while others have lit up the silver screen.

There are grand, ticketed visitor attractions but there are others which are unassuming structures so tucked away that only the locals seem to know about them.

From the triangular-shaped Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfries and Galloway to the imposing New Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, and from the magnificent fortress that dominates the Edinburgh skyline to the haunting battlements that stand on the banks of Loch Ness, each tower tells a story, every turret holds a secret and, together, they span centuries of fascinating Scottish history.

A History and Guide to Scottish Castles explores the history, architecture, and legends of some of these fascinating fortresses and looks at why they are so appealing to visitors today.

Sharing amazing facts and her own unique experiences, author Jenna Maxwell takes readers on an unforgettable tour of some of Scotland’s most amazing castles which, if you haven’t visited them already, you’ll soon want to. Jenna has documented her journey on her Instagram page @queen_ofthecastles.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a very informative book about Scottish castles! I have long been fascinated with castles, and it was a delightful read! It told the stories and the histories of castles! I recommend this for castles fans!

NetGalley, Lauralee Jacks

Illustrated throughout with numerous black-and-white photos of Scottish castles, "A History and Guide to Scottish Castles" will have a special appeal and value for readers with an interest in Scotland's history, landmarks and monuments -- and of course, its castles. Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "A History and Guide to Scottish Castles" is a particularly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

A History & Guide to Scottish is a fantastic little book that explores all the castles in Scotland, from the forgotten and neglected to the immaculate and well-known.

An excellent book that separates the castles into regions and then supplies great local history connected to the castles and provided with the excellent little stories of history and suspense.

An excellent book with lots of information contained within, a really interesting read and ideal as a guide.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

This is a book I would happily take with me on holiday and make good use of, and I certainly recommend it as an enjoyable guide book

Hexham Local History Society (Hexham Historian Newsletter - Spring 2023)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love Scotland and this is just a fantastic book for anyone who has been or wants to go, it’s full of stunning pictures alongside details, facts and history of the Castles featured. I’ve been to quite a few of them but still learnt something new, I also found many places I need to visit now. A fantastic guide.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

Lots of fun tidbits of info in this that has me wanting to plan a trip to Scotland!

NetGalley, Lauren M

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve only been to Scotland once and only for a couple days. In that short time I was able to visit Edinburgh castle. It’s an imposing castle perched on a hill looking over the city.

According to Jenna Maxwell Scotland has 4,000 castles in different states of repair. She focuses on a nice mixture of castles both fully restored to ruins. There’s some that are still run by the family and others by Scotland. Maxwell does an amazing job giving the history of her chosen castles. She also mentions renovations or the cause of their destruction. My personal favorite part of each entry is how each castle impacts popular culture by either appearing in a film, TV show, book, poem or art. If it doesn’t appear it often inspires.

Maxwell also includes many wonderful pictures to set the scene of many of the castles. I will definitely be using this to plan my next trip to Scotland.

NetGalley, Brannigan Cheney

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been on a nonfiction kick recently and this one stood out for many reasons. I have always loved learning about Scotland and getting a history and guide to its castles was incredible.

NetGalley, Caroline Craig David

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Seriously, there is a lot of information about a lot of castles packed into this brief book. There are also many stunning photographs.

NetGalley, Susan Illis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A History and Guide to Scottish Castles by Jenna Maxwell was a great read.

The book follows Jenna as she travels the length and breadth of the country on her holidays with her family visiting and sometimes staying at castles all over the land.

Its a well-written guide with lots of historical facts in it as well. I found the book enjoyable with lots of castles I had never heard of before and some I did but didn't know all the history about. A great read for tourists and Scottish history fans alike.

NetGalley, Hazel Thomson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a really amazing book all about Scottish Castles. It is jam packed full of very interesting information and knowledge, which I found really fascinating. Living in Scotland myself, I have visited a lot of Castles, my favourite being Edinburgh Castle, and reading this book opened my eyes to just how many Castles we have here in Scotland. Did you know that there are 3,000 Castles currently in Scotland, and that there used to be around 4,000? I didn't know this before I read this book.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, which has beautiful pictures and a guide which goes into detail about the history, architecture, and legends of some of these wonderful Castles. I loved going on a Grand Tour around Scotland, finding out about each Castle, and all the amazing facts which I didn't know about already. If you also want to go on a Scottish adventure, then buy this book, as you won't be disappointed! Highly Recommended!

NetGalley, Catherine Craig (Angelic Light)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The book is arranged geographically, so the entries can be read in any order (there's a good table of contents, but no index), and "armchair" travelers can read about the history of the locations they aspire to visit. The author's writing style is warm and friendly and she does a grand job of including interesting tidbits about each castle's history and special characteristics. The author has also included a smattering of ghost stories about many of the castles which were interesting and entertaining to read.

The photos are clear, and some are quite breathtaking. There are many interior shots along with furnishings alongside the historical photos.

Five stars. This would make an excellent choice for public or home library acquisition as well as for fans of travel and history.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Spent all day yesterday reading through this. We have just returned from two weeks travelling around Scotland and read all about the castles we saw, that really made the journey more interesting. Making a list of the ones to visit next time. A very readable and interesting well researched book.

NetGalley, Karen Hammond

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I would recommend this book to anyone who is planning to travel to Scotland. There's plenty of info, trivia, and it's a very entertaining read full of lovely pictures.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish this guide was available the last time I visited Scotland, but it will certainly be with me the next time I go. Similar to 'Crusader Castles' by T.E. Lawrence, this book acts as both a guide and historical reference to the many castles dotting the Scottish countryside. From famous to forgotten, restored to ruined, this book covers the lot. And for those who are interested in photos over text, the author has an Instagram page where many of the castles have been featured. 5/5 stars; well deserved.

NetGalley, Spencer Wright

Written in a friendly, relaxed style and well-researched, it provides a comprehensive guide to Scottish castles for history-lovers, and tourists. The black and white pictures are suitably gothic!

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A perfect introduction to the many and varied castles in Scotland. The author writes with knowledge and confidence in her material also she writes with a good deal of humour and personal insight. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The pictures of the castles are superb and very evocative.
In it she breaks the country down into its various parts so any visitor can pick from their intended destination as to what interesting castles to visit, and the obligatory ghost stories and ancient fables of course. A very enjoyable trip through a beautiful, ancient country.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was thrilled when I was able to review this book. Having spent some time visiting the United Kingdom, I was amazed by the sheer number of castles I didn't see. Ms. Maxwell gives a thorough description of castles both still standing and long gone. Makes me wish I was just a little younger so I could check some out. I am glad I read this book so I could visualize these majestic buildings through the author's eyes.

NetGalley, Sandra Berryman

This book on Scottish castles is part travelogue and part history lesson. I think some readers will be surprised to learn how many Scottish castles are in ruins. I loved reading about castles I have visited before—my favorites are in the Highlands section.

NetGalley, Margaret McDonald

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After reading this book, All I wanna do is to travel trough these beautiful and historical places in Scotland( Really, It's on of my dream trips ever!) As a History lover, this narrative with pictures is inspiring and full of ancient stories about people and the stunning country. I loved to know a little more and I also have made a list to the castles that I want to visit someday, if God allows. Book Approved!

NetGalley, Heloiza Silva

I asked to have an ARC of this book, basically because of all the highlander romances I have read over the years, but never would I have imagined anyway how many castles there might be in Scotland. Although some of them are now just ruins, others are inhabited, habitable or even haunted, so I would say there is something for everyone.

NetGalley, Gonza Basta

A History and Guide to Scottish Castles is a book that takes the reader on an exciting tour through both popular and more hidden castles. The popular sell tickets and the hidden castles are off the beaten trail. Both are such fun to explore - which is what Maxwell does for us.
With histories and stories to complement the castles - the architecture and backdrop of these magnificent gifts of history set against a Scotland so fetchingly described that it feels like you are right there.
An enjoyable read - I will revisit it again!

NetGalley, Beth Emmerling

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a really enjoyable read. Full of historical information as well as pop culture and personal experience, this book takes the reader on a tour of Scotland's castle. Accompanied by photographs, this is a perfect book for the coffee table or bookshelf. Armchair travellers will definitely enjoy this one!

NetGalley, Kel Wheeldon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A History and Guide to Scottish Castles by Jenna Maxwell is a wonderful mix of history, travelogue, and guidebook. With the addition of popular culture references and beautiful photographs, this is both useful and a fun read.

In an engaging voice Maxwell takes the reader on a trip to many of the castles in Scotland. We get a feel for how we can see them today as well as the history. For those who haven't yet visited, or may never get the chance, photographs and mentions of places we may have seen or heard about the castles help to make us feel like we are there.

I don't think this would be great as the only guidebook for a tour, but then I'm not sure that is the intention. This is, however, ideal as a companion to a more traditional tour guide that has maps and road routes. The information is enough to please both a reader and a tourist deciding which castles might appeal to them. Prefer the more maintained castles or the ruins that might speak more intimately to the history of both nobility and violence (human and natural varieties)? They're in here.

As I am wont to do, I looked up many of these castles online to get even more views. This made the information in the text come even more alive. The pictures in the book are wonderful and sufficient, adding the internet images gives more variety without making the book too unwieldy because of too many photographs.

Highly recommended for those with an interest in castles, especially Scottish castles. This is also a great resource for anyone planning a visit to Scotland. Because of the weaving of history, travelogue, and popular culture references, this is also just a very good read for those wanting to do a bit of armchair traveling.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

This a wonderful guide to some of Scotlands many castles ranging from the huge visitor attractions to smaller hidden beauties.

I am Scottish and consider myself reasonably well travelled within my country but there were many castles I had not heard of featured in the book and it has certainty inspired me to add a few destinations to my future travels.

The author has clearly researched her subject and her passion for what she is writing about is evident.

There are details of the history of the castle and discussions of how they relate in popular culture eg featuring in films and what they have inspired (find out what castle inspired the infamous Red wedding in Game of Thrones)

I loved the fact that the author included personal anecdotes throughout the discussion including visiting castles with her family, it was a nice touch.

The photographs of the castles are beautiful.

A lovely book that would make a wonderful gift.

NetGalley, Wanderingsteps andslow

About Jenna Maxwell

Jenna is a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist from Edinburgh. Over the years, she has written extensively about the country of her birth and a lifelong fascination with its castles, legends and ghost stories has led to this – her first book. She has written for publications including The Telegraph, Buzzfeed, Closer Magazine, The Sun, The Daily Record, Scotland Magazine, and Scottish Field.

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