Ravenscraig Castle, Fife
Ravenscraig Castle may be the first castle in Britain specifically designed to withstand cannon fire. It was to be part of a series of new fortresses that would be capable of withstanding and returning artillery fire.
The castle was built on a rocky promontory which juts into the Firth. Three sides of the castle have steep cliffs down to the water and on the fourth a wide, natural gully was extended to become a considerable ditch. The front wall is more than 10 feet thick and sports an array of gun holes.
Today the castle is open for free to the public via a pleasant walk from the extensive Ravenscraig Park, where there is ample parking, public toilets and signposts to see you safely to the castle.
There is also a road that takes you down to the beach, where you can see the castle from the shoreline and look upon the amazing golden green rocks that you can see from our photo's above. You will also be able to see how the castles defences were incorporated into the cliff-line.
~ History ~
1460 ~ King James II of Scotland commissions the building of a new type of royal castle with the latest artillery thinking built into its design, to guard the Firth of Forth from English attack by sea.
King James never sees his plans completed. Shortly after construction begins, he is killed during a siege at Roxburgh Castle.
James has taken a large number of cannons with him to attack the English garrison in Roxburgh Castle. ‘The Lion’ was one that he had used successfully in a number of sieges. Unfortunately, on this occasion, ‘the Lion’ explodes killing James in a shower of metal and wooden shrapnel.
James’ widow Mary of Guelders acts as regent for three years after his death. She uses the castle as a dower house and oversees the continuing construction work until she too dies.
1471 ~ Construction work stops. King James III of Scotland gives the castle to William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness in exchange for the Earldom of Orkney. Sinclair also has an interest in artillery fortification, and he continues the construction.
The Sinclair family use Ravenscraig as a home, building a tower house within the castle.
1540 ~ King James V visits the castle.
1598 ~ The Sinclair Earls entertain King James V at their castle.
1650 ~ Cromwell invades Scotland. Ravenscraig is attacked and damaged.
1651 ~ The castle is garrisoned by Cromwell’s troops.
1896 ~ The Sinclair's sell their castle after more than four hundred years Sir Michael Nairn, a Scottish industrialist.