• Linlithgow Palace (Lothian): These ruins brood over an island in a loch, an unhappy vestige of what was the most glamorous royal residence during Scotland's golden age of independence, in the early 1500s. Mary Queen of Scots was born here, but tragedy seemed to permeate the palace, as roofs collapsed from lack of maintenance, and early deaths in the royal family hastened an inevitable union of Scotland with England. In 1745, after Linlithgow was occupied by Bonnie Prince Charlie and his troops, a mysterious fire swept over the palace.
  • Dryburgh Abbey (the Borders): Begun in 1150 along a meandering curve of the River Tweed, Dryburgh was once home to thousands of monks who transformed the surrounding forests into arable fields, and drained many local swamps. The abbey's location, astride the much-troubled border with England, resulted in its destruction in three episodes (1322, 1385, and 1544), the last of which included the burning of the nearby village (Dryburgh). Today, the red-sandstone rocks are dim reminders of a long-ago monastic age.
  • Elgin Cathedral (Grampian): This cathedral was built during the 1100s, and although many other churches were erected in Scotland at the time, Elgin was reputedly the most beautiful. Burned and rebuilt twice (in 1290 and 1370), it—along with many other Catholic churches—deteriorated after the Reformation; the belfry collapsed in 1711, shattering most of the roof and some of the walls. Efforts were undertaken to repair the damage, yet the place remains an evocative ruin.
  • Skara Brae (the Orkney Islands): Last occupied around 2500 B.C., and far humbler than the feudal castles you'll find on the Scottish mainland, this cluster of fortified stone buildings is the best-preserved Neolithic village in northwestern Europe. Buried beneath sand for thousands of years, Skara Brae was uncovered by a storm in 1850.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.