Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dundonald Castle

A marvellous ruin to visit amidst the beautiful Ayrshire countryside just a few miles outside Kilmarnock. You can park at the bottom of the hill and call in at the visitor centre for a ticket to go inside the castle (you can also have some tea or coffee in the cafe there and see the exhibition showing the history of the castle and area). Then it's a short 140 feet climb (if a bit steep!) up to the castle - and where you can also admire the beautiful view.

The castle was built for Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371. It was his favourite home and he died here in 1390. The Stewart kings then lived in the castle for the next 150 years. 
The main room is the well preserved vaulted Laigh (or, lower,) Hall. There's a high-level annex which includes a pit prison, and a modern spiral staircase which will take you up to the Great Hall, the second largest room, which contains private areas at either end.
It seems, owing to extensive excavations, that the present castle was built on the remains of at least two other castles, of which little is known.

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