The castle and estate in Stevenston have been around since 1191. It was the seat of Stephen Lockhart or Loccard (who the town is named after) and at various points in history belonged to the Campbells, the Cunninghames, the Boyds and the Hamiltons. It has been known as “Kerila”, “Kyryaw”, “Kirylaw” and, when the Hamiltons had it was known as “Grange.”

Kerelaw Castle ruins

During the 1488 feud between the Cunninghames of Glencairn and the Montgomeries of Eglinton, the castle was razed to the ground. It was later re-built and the Cunninghames had their revenge by burning Eglinton Castle to the ground in1528.

It once had a dovecote, cottages for workers, a walled garden and many other buildings associated with castle life that are no longer visible. The castle and the castle bridge are now both category B listed buildings.

The Hamiltons were the last family to live there before they built Kerelaw House in 1787 and the castle was no longer used. It is through the Hamiltons that the estate is becoming more well known as it is the ancestral home of Alexander Hamilton – one of the US Founding Fathers. His father James A Hamilton was born and raised there before moving to the West Indies and fathering Alexander with Rachel Faucette. The Broadway smash hit musical is based on Alexander’s life and has won many prestigious awards.

The remains of the eastern castle wall

The castle is now a ruin with fencing surrounding it but on a fine day, it still evokes a sense of history and beauty.