Ardrossan Castle, Ayrshire
West of Kilmarnock
Ardrossan Castle occupies the summit of a hill known as Castle Craigs. Now a ruin, it was a fine castle in its day, built around a central courtyard and exterior walls up to six feet thick, surrounded by a dry moat to the north and the east. To the south and west the castle was well defended by the sea. A strong drawbridge protected entry to the castle. The castle's incredible views over the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Arran, Cumbrae, Ailsa Criag, Horse Island and on a clear day to Jura and Kintyre, and along the coast to Ayr to the south and Largs to the north. This gave the castle strategic benefits since the Norseman were still plundering the islands of the west of Scotland at this time. The name Ardrossan is from the Gaelic for a small high rocky headland.
Access to the castle is restricted by a high fence that runs all-round the castle that is located in a park by the edge of a modern housing estate.
You can get a clear view of the front of the castle from the car park of a church that backs on to a railway line that runs beneath the front of the castle.
~ History ~
1066 - The de Barclay's arrive in England with William the Conqueror and fight alongside him at the Battle of Hastings.
1124 - King David I becomes King of Scotland. With strong ties with the English court including an English countess as his wife, he believes welcoming 1,000 Anglo-Norman lords into Scotland will benefit the development of Scotland and further protect is position. They are given the lands of his rivals and those who oppose him.
1140 - Richard de Barclay becomes Lord of Ardrossan and sets about building himself a castle.
1296 - William Wallace lays siege to the castle. He sets fire to nearby buildings. When the English soldiers let down the drawbridge to extinguish the flames, his men slaughter every man within, throwing their mutilated bodies into a vault at the bottom of the castle, which later becomes known as Wallace's Larder.
1301 ~ Two members of the Ardrossan family are held prisoners in England.
The castle later passes to the Montgomery family through marriage who build a new castle. The Ardrossan family line dies out.
1388 ~ Sir John Montgomery fights at the Battle of Otterburn, capturing Harry 'Hotspur' Percy.
1402 ~ Sir John fights at the Battle of Holildon Hill. Following Border raids and counter raids by both English and Scottish, The Earl of Dunbar's son persuades the English Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his son Harry 'Hotspur' to lie in wait for the returning Scottish army at Wooler. Once the Scots have made their camp on low ground the English attack. The Scottish entries alert their leader Archibald Douglas who quickly makes for higher ground on Holidon Hill. There he forms his army into traditional Schriltron formations. The English with their long bows decimate these large immobile defensive units of men who soon start to break out. A hundren men under Sir John Swinton charge the English "Better to die in the mellay than to beshot down like deer". All perish. Douglas belatedly signals the advance of his main army which is mauled by the unbloodied English men at arms. Douglas's army is routed. Many of his captains, including his kinsman George Douglas, 1st Earl of Angus, Thomas Dunbar, 5th Earl of Moray and Murdoch of Fife are all killed.
Douglas is captured having been wounded five times, including the loss of an eye.