Ardrossan Castle sits high atop Castle Hill in Ardrossan, with sweeping views over the Firth of Clyde to Arran. This easy accessible castle is one of the most historically significant structures in all of North Ayrshire and should be a must-see feature of any visit to the area.
The castle is owned by North Ayrshire Council and is championed by the local Ardrossan Castle Heritage Society.
History of the Castle
Ardrossan Castle, built in four phases, sits high atop Castle Hill, with views of the surrounding coast and countryside.
The original castle, built around the late 13th century mainly from grey sandstone, consisted of a simple rectangular shape approximately 70-foot square, with a forward projecting gatehouse which was both keep and main residential block with underground cellars, backed by a walled courtyard. The castle sat at a height of just 50 feet, due to the higher sea at the time, with the modern town of Ardrossan sitting on 'reclaimed' ground.
In the early 14th century the gatehouse was rebuilt from the first floor up. Now consisting of three floors, a straight stairway built into the north wall, ran from the first floor to the battlement walk which had a turret at the north-west side of the castle.
Following the death of Godfrey de Ardrossan in 1357, without a male heir, the lands of Ardrossan passed through marriage into the Eglinton family. About 1360, Elizabeth, sole heir of Sir Hew de Eglinton of Eglinton married Sir John Montgomerie of Eaglesham and the lands of both Eglinton and Ardrossan passed into the Montgomerie family.
During the third phase, occurring in the mid to late 15th century, Ardrossan castle underwent an extensive rebuilt to improve both the living conditions and the castle defences. A large window was inserted in the western portion of the first floor looking northwards and an additional floor was added raising the height of the keep. A variety of buildings along with a chapel were built along the western and north-west curtain walls. A rectangular tower was added at the south-west corner and two long narrow slits, potentially gun ports, were inserted along the south wall. Little was changed during the final phase except for the original entrance to the keep being blocked up and a wide mouthed gun port being added.
During the mid-17th century Ardrossan castle was destroyed, allegedly by Oliver Cromwell’s troops. The castle which had been a stronghold for centuries could not withstand artillery fire and was never rebuilt.