Scotland is known for its dramatically placed castles, fused onto defensive ridges and rocky islands. Many of these are Medieval. Most, however, were constructed in the building boom following the Scottish Reformation (1560), and are the most distinctive Scottish architectural form – the tower-house.
Grand Medieval Scottish castles were made up of a series of courtyards, with a keep at their centre. More common, though, were lone keep-towers, like Castle Stalker. However, with the arrival of the cannon, high-walled castles were no longer defensively practical: new building types needed to be developed.
During the sixteenth century the Stuart kings experimented with French and Italian Renaissance forms, creating new castle-palaces like Stirling. Most barons, however, looked back fondly on the old keep-towers, and from the later sixteenth century onwards used these as a model for their new residences. Magnificent clusters of towers, with high-pitched roofs and many turrets, these tower-houses remained popular for centuries, in Scotland, and beyond.