Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire
B730, off A759
Dundonald Castle's origins date back to the second half of the fourteenth century. Even more impressive, however, it is the story of the hill on which it was built, with human activity dating back to the Neolithic era.
Fragments of rough pottery are evidence that even in the Bronze Age, this was a place of some importance.
Through to the iron Age, remains of round houses, built at the turn of the third century BC, surrounded by a massive wooden palisade and ramparts indicate the continued importance of this site until being rebuilt in stone around 500 AD as a Scottish Dun or citadel.
When you first approach the castle, it appears not such an impressive or important ruin, that is until you enter the magnificent great hall and then climb to the top, you realise this was a castle of some importance.
An easy case to get access to not far from the road with parking and visitor facilities. An important castle and ancient site for anyone interested in Scottish history.
~ History ~
214 ~ Roman troops withdraw from Scotia, leaving the surrounding area of Dundonald to become incorporated into the kingdom of Strathclyde.
1018 ~ Owen II, also known as Owen the Bald, last ruler of Strathclyde dies, which results in the kingdom being absorbed into the more powerful kingdom of Alba. During this terbulent period Dundonald castle is completely destroyed and the site abandoned for at least the next 150 years.
1136 ~ At the invitation of King David I, a Norman nobleman - Walter Fitz Alan arrives into Scotland to help secure the Kings weak rule in the area away from the Lords of the isles. Soon, with the permission and encouragement by the King, Fitz Alan secures himself lands within the former kingdom of Strathclyde.
1164 ~ Sir Walter, during the Battle of Renfrew, is able to defeat the army of the mighty Somerled, Norse King of the Isles. Somerled's death leads to the Norman's expanding their control further still over the Scots, in the name of their King. Before long a network of Norman castles are built to secure their hold over newly conquered territory, including Dundonald Castle. Their growing influence see's King William I the Lion of Scotland proclaim Sir Walter the Great Steward of Scotland.
1240 ~ Alexander Stewart, grandson of Sir Walter Stewart, rebuilds Dundonald castle in stone, to reflect his standing as one of the most powerful and influential figures in Scotland.
1263 ~ Sir Alexander commands the royal army of King Alexander III in a battle with the armies of the Norwegian King Haakon IV.
A serious of skirmishes without major battle results and although militarily indecisive, it proved to be a tactical victory for the Scots. Norwegians retreated to the north, and before the year is out King Haakon IV is dead. The Norwegians never again pushed home their claim to the Highlands and Islands.
1300's ~ Dundonald castle is placed under siege and taken by King Edward I's troops as part of the English invasion of Scotland. King Edward orders the total destruction of the castle.
1314 ~ Walter Stewart, 6th Stewart Scotland fights alongside King Robert at the Battle of Bannockburn against the English army of King Edward II in which the Scots are victorious, driving back the English.
1315 ~ Sir Walter marries the Kings daughter Marjory.
1316 ~ Heavily pregnant Marjory falls from her horse and due to her fatal injuries, her baby son Robert is born through a new treatment known as caesarean section.
1326 ~ King Robert's father Sir Walter Stewart dies.
1329 ~ King Robert dies and so the throne passes to his only son as King David II.
1350's ~ Dundonald castle is rebuilt.
1371 ~ King David II dies childless and so the first in line is 55 year old Robert, son of Walter and Marjory, is crowned King Robert II, first of the dynasty Stewart.
1390 ~ After an eventful reign, sick and passive, he withdrew from political life, leaving the fate of the country to his children. He dies in Dundonald castle. The importance of Dundonald castle declines with his passing.
1426 ~ King James I donates a considerable sum of money for necessary repairs to the castle, under the management of Sir Gilbert Kennedy, 1st Lord Kennedy.
1520 ~ Dundonald castle becomes the property of Sir William Wallace, the 12th lord of Craigie.
1536 ~ King James V owns the castle and surrounding lands ceded to Sir Robert Boyd, 4th Lord Boyd. Wallace however refuses to cede the castle. Boyd attempts to take the castle by force on two occassion's in succession and both occassion's is driven back. Finally, resigned Boyd leaves the castle to Wallace.
1632 ~ Sir Hugh Wallace is plagued with serious financial problems and is forced to sell the castle to John Mathieson.
At this time, however, he was already Stormont certainly abandoned.
1638 ~ Sir William Cochrane of Cowdon buys the castle and two years later, he expands it considerably.
1647 ~ Sir William is appointed Baron Cochrane of Dundonald.
1669 ~ For his services incurred in the service of the Crown during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, he is elevated to the dignity of the 1st Earl of Dundonald.
1726 ~ Sir Thomas Cochrane, the sixth Earl of Dundonald sells the castle, while retaining the rights to the ruined castle.