When you write a story that takes the reader back in time, the first thing that comes in mind is not always the characters, despite what many people think. It is actually the location—the setting.

You close your eyes and start imagining the buildings, people’s clothes, smells, tastes and sounds…It is as if you are a ghost who has come from another era, another setting, and you try to see – feel – the story before you start to actually writing it. Then, you decide to “clear the fog” by trying to find either historical facts and sources that will lead you to the most concrete elements to add to your story to make it look real!

It was no surprise for me when, the other day, I read an article about the Doune Castle being an inspiration for the famous Winterfell, home castle of the Starks in the hit series Game of Thrones. 

By Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Starks were the royals whose banner depicted a wolf (an animal loyal to family bonds), they lived in the North (so snow would get them first) and they were also closer to the border location of the Wall (which means they would be the first royals facing potential invasion from enemies). 

Placing the Starks in a sturdy and imposing castle appeared to be a natural choice.

Doune Castle, a fine choice for its emblematic form as a fortress, is actually one of the most characteristic sites in Scotland. Geographically placed in a crossroad at the center of Scotland, it has a pentagon shape and is defended by earthworks from the north, while in the south it has windows to the courtyard.

Why it is ideal for a setting in a romance novel? I kept asking myself this question as I was thinking about my next book. 

Well, this remarkable site inspires you to craft strong characters (on the outside) with a soft heart (on the inside)—a solid Highlander with broad shoulders, exuding sexism and testosterone, yet, ready to defend his lass and place her there as his queen…don’t you just love it when this happens?!

I can already picture a handsome Laird gazing into my eyes with his very own green, gray, or blue (hey I have not decided on the eye color yet!) from the balustrade of the tower, shouting at me: “Hey lassie, will ye write about me story now?” 

Rarely can I say no to such a request!

I was wondering…have you ever visited a castle you thought could work as an inspiration if you were to ever write a romance?

I would love to read about it and who knows, maybe you will see it featuring in one of my next books!

Written by Lydia Kendall 


  1. Here’s a castle that few folks think about: Hearst’s Castle in California. It has beautiful interiors and the grounds are gorgeous. Take a tour sometimes and you can get the feel of the 18th century married into the 20th century.


    • Indeed Scotland has a unique landscape!
      I thought I saw it too but then it is always nice to be confirmed!

  3. There is an old castle fortification on the edge of the English Channel at Portsmouth ,England. I have often wondered about the Normans who lived there,and their attitudes towards their defeated enemies. There is a nice sunny corner where I think the lady of the castle had her solar overlooking the parade ground. Hope this helps!

  4. I was a fanatical Game of Thrones watcher. Thank you for the information on the real Winterfell castle. I love learning new facts!
    Thank you for your interesting articles and last but not least, your fantastic books.

    • Thank you for your enthusiasm over my work Sandra!
      Hearing such positive words from fans is encouraging!

  5. I love Scottish castles and Sexy drop dead gorgeous Highlander’s! and all the Scottish history! Would love a book in this setting, especially time travel modern woman going back and finding a yummy , highlander, who wouldn’t stay for that?

  6. I’ve never been to Scotland
    But I’ll make it someday. Wr lived in Germany and saw a lot of wonderful castles there especially along the Rhine and Mosel river. But I loved the castles in Wales for fantasy Dreams.

    • Lorene,
      Scotland is a magic land. I hear however that Germany has wonderful castles as well. Lucky you!

  7. You can send me to Scotland any time!!! Of the historical romances that I read, I always fall for a highlander first. Visiting Scotland, Ireland, and Germany are all on my bucket list (see which one I listed first? lol)


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