Portencross consists of a tiny collection of cottages, a harbour, a pier and a castle. It was from here, legend tells us, that the bodies of the ancient kings of Scotland were brought to be taken by boat to the island of Iona for burial.
In 1315, a year after the Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce gave lands at Portencross to Sir Robert Boyd of Kilmarnock as a thank you for his support. The following year Robert Boyd replaced an old structure on Auld Hill above Portencross with a new fortified tower on a rocky promontory on the shoreline, looking out to the Firth of Clyde.
Robert’s son, Robert II, maintained close contact with the Boyds and signed several Royal Charters at Portencross. During the 15th century the castle was used less and less by the Crown and reverted back to a residence for the Boyd family who lived there until 1660. Local fishermen and their families then used it. In 1737 the Boyds sold the estate and two years later a violent storm blew the roof off the castle.
It is believed that the waters around Portencross may conceal the wreck of a Spanish Galleon that was fleeing from the wreck of the Spanish Armada in 1588. A Spanish Armada sea cannon was recovered from sea bed near the castle and was gifted to the people of Portencross. Attempts to find the wreck have so far been unsuccessful.
The castle was bought by William Adams in 1900 who reroofed the east wing. In 1998 Portencross Castle was going to be put on the open market by its current owner, Magnox. A petition was set up by a local group in a bid to keep the castle in public ownership. The Friends of Portencross Castle was formed and after several years of negotiations, the ownership of the Castle passed to the Friends of Portencross Castle in December 2005. And so began an earnest search to secure funding for its repair. Work began in March 2009 and was completed by September 2010.
Portencross castle is an ancient scheduled monument and is now a marvellous legacy for visitors and future generations to enjoy.