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Local information

Accommodation in Ayrshire & Arran
North Ayrshire council
Isle of Arran information

Castles in Ayrshire and Arran

This region situated along the Clyde Coast is one of the most stunning in all of Scotland, no wonder this was a Mecca for castle-building royalty. Ayrshire is complete with country parks, gardens and sprinkled with market towns, while the isle of Arran is known as Scotland in miniature, all landscapes of Scotland complete in one compact package.

In the north of Ayrshire lies Knock Castle, a now private residence on the outskirts of Largs. Built in 1851, Knock Castle was built in a castellated Tudor revival style for a Greenock merchant, Robert Steele and is now a category A listed building. Knock Old Castle sits on the grounds of Knock Castle with views over Arran and Bute, and was most likely built in the 16th century.

3 miles from Larg is the town of Fairlie is Kelburn Castle, a large house and the seat of the Earl of Glasgow. First built in the 13th century and remodelled in the 16th, Kelburn Castle and grounds, opened to the public as a country park.

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire & Arran copyright Albring
Culzean Castle © Albring

The ruins of Glengarnock Castle sit 13 miles to the east of Kelburn Castle, and it is unknown when or by whom Glenarnock was built, but the ruins were stabilised in 1841, though since then the structure continues to deteriorate.

Moving 15 miles back to the coast of Ayrshire, Portencross Castle, in Portencross 2 miles from West Kilbride has existed in one way or another since the 13th century. The present structure was rebuilt in the 14th century overlooking the Firth of Clyde. Portencross is known as the location where Robert II signed several Royal Charters, and was occupied until 1739. While the castle walls remain, the structure is in dangerous condition.

Across from Portencross Castle on Allinturrail or Castle Island, is Little Cumbrae Castle. The 16th century castle was built by Lord Eglinton as a base to prevent deer and rabbit poaching.

Directly in the town of nearby West Kilbride, the 15th century Law Castle was built for King James III's sister Mary. Today Law Castle is a private family home.

Five miles south along the coast, Ardrossan Castle in the town of Ardrossan stands on a ridge above the down and was originally built and owned by Clan Barclay. Three miles from Ardrossan, Kerelaw Castle is a ruined castle in the town of Stevenston and dates back to 1190, though the current structure was rebuilt some time during 1488.

In the nearby town of Kilwinning, Eglinton Castle sits within Eglinton County Park, one of the most popular attractions in Ayrshire. Eglinton Castle was built 1797-1802 and was a grand Gothic castellated structure abandoned in the early 20th century. The remains of the structure were made safe, though just a wing facade and a single tower remain.

5 miles further inland, Auchenharvie Castle has long been a ruin, most likely as far back as 1604. The ruins of this great castle stand at Auchenharvie Farm near Torranyard.

The town of Kilmaurs, 8 miles from Auchenharvie, is the nearest town to Rowallan Castle, an ancient castle on the banks of the Carmel Water. Though the castle has been owned by great Clans and Earls, and was home to the Campbells of Loudoun until the 19th century, Rowallan Castle is now owned by Historic Scotland.

Situated in the Dean Castle Country Park, 4 miles from Rowallan Castle, Dean Castle was originally owned in the early 15th century by the Boyd family and has many connections in Scottish history.

Dundonald Castle was built in 1371 and used as a royal residence by the early Stewart kings, which overlooks the village of Dundonald. Today Dundonald Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland. One mile west of Dundonald Castle lies Auchans Castle, a mock military Category A listed mansion built in the 16th century, and today a ruin.

Eglinton Castle, Ayrshire & Arran copyright Rosser1954
Eglinton Castle © Rosser1954

Nearby, Sorn Castle, on the River Ayr, dates from 14th century, though the grounds were laid out in the 18th century. Today Sorn Castle is a private residence with public viewings by appointment. To the far south of Ayrshire, 25 miles south of Sorn Castle, is the majestic Blairquhan Castle, a Regency- era castle and the historic home of the Hunter-Blair family, who still own the castle today. The Blairquhan Castle and award-winning gardens are open to the public.

10 miles from Blairquhan Castle, and west of Maybole, Thomaston Castle is a ruined castle structure built for a nephew of Robert the Bruce in 1500. While nearby Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast is a clifftop castle that was a former home of the Marquess of Ailsa. Culzean Castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and may be instantly recognizable as the illustration on the reverse side of five-pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland

5 miles south of Ayr and near Dunure village lies Dunure Castle, a ruined castle on the Carrick coast which dates back to the 13th century. Dunure Castle is located in Kennedy Park. Greenan Castle lies another 5 miles northeast of Dunure, and was built for John Kennedy of Baltersan in 1603.

On the island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, Brodick Castle outside the port of Brodick was a seat of the Dukes of Hamilton and is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Along with Brodick Country Park, Brodick Castle is open to the public all year round, and Brodick is also features on the reverse side of the twenty-pound note.

On the southern coast of Arran stands Kildonan Castle, near the small village of the same name. Kildonan Castle was built in the 13th century by the MacDonalds, the Lords of the Isles, and due to its strategic location overlooking the entrance to the Firth of Clyde, Kildonan Castle served to defend against enemies attacking through the Firth. Once a royal hunting lodge, the castle became property of the Earls of Arran in 1544.

Situation on the north of Arran, Lochranza Castle is a 16th century structure, though the original 13th century fortification was owned by the MacSweens and then King Alexander III granted the castle to Walter Stewart. In the 18th century the castle fell into ruin and after being abandoned, it is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Ayrshire & Arran castles

Bullet Point Ardrossan Castle
Bullet Point Auchans Castle
Bullet Point Auchenharvie Castle
Bullet Point Blairquhan Castle
Bullet Point Brodick Castle
Bullet Point Culzean Castle
Bullet Point Dean Castle
Bullet Point Dundonald Castle
Bullet Point Dunure Castle
Bullet Point Eglinton Castle
Bullet Point Glengarnock Castle
Bullet Point Kelburn Castle
Bullet Point Kerelaw Castle
Bullet Point Kildonan Castle
Bullet Point Knock Castle
Bullet Point Law Castle
Bullet Point Little Cumbrae Castle
Bullet Point Lochranza Castle
Bullet Point Portencross Castle
Bullet Point Rowallan Castle
Bullet Point Sorn Castle
Bullet Point Thomaston Castle

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