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Dairsie Castle





Dairsie CastleDairsie Castle is a restored tower house located 1.3 kilometres (0.81 mi) south of Dairsie in north-east Fife, Scotland. The castle overlooks the River Eden.

The first castle built here was the property of the bishops of St Andrews, and may have been constructed by William de Lamberton, bishop of St Andrews from 1298 to 1328. A Scottish parliament was held at the castle in early 1335, attended by William Douglas, knight of Liddesdale, amonst other nobles.

The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century by the Learmonth family. James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, then regent of Scotland, laid siege to the castle in 1575.


1575 – on 26th July, Lord Jon Hamilton, son of the late regent, the Duke of Chatelherault, and a leader of the Queen’s party, was ambushed at Cupar by his enemies ‘the Erle of Buchan, the Erle of Mortoun that is now, George Douglas thair brother of Lochleven, George Bishop of Murray….with fyve hundredth horsemen, accumpaneit with sunm of my Lord Lyndsayis freyndis.’ He bought time by sending his own retinue to act as a decoy, whilst he sought refuge in ‘sum fine hous.’ He was ‘immmediatelie relevit in hous of a worshipful gentilman, callit Learmonth of Dairsie; in whar he was…defendit freyndlie and manfulie to the utmost.’ He was shortly rescued by a party of his friends including ‘Erle of Angus, Rothes, Erroll and George Lord Seytoun and Hamiltons.’ His party then made a feint towards Queensferry, before slipping away north. The Regent was clearly implicated in the plot: ‘And notwithstanding of this outrage done aganis him, the Regent maid na redress, but rather doublet his malice aganis the familie.’ Hamilton followed the Queen into exile after the defeat at the battle of Langside in 1579, for which he was much to blame, but, unlike her, was restored to his properties in 1585.


King James VI of Scotland stayed at Dairsie Castle in 1583 following his escape from the Raid of Ruthven in June 1583. In the 17th century it was sold to John Spottiswoode (1565–1639), Archbishop of St Andrews, who built Dairsie Old Church next to the castle in 1621.

The castle later was owned by the Morrisons, then the Scotts and remained occupied until the 19th century when it fell into ruin.

It was rebuilt in the 1990s, and is now operated as holiday accommodation. It is a Category B listed building, and was formerly a Scheduled Ancient Monument, having been de-scheduled in 1997 prior to the restoration works.



  • John Learmonth of Whitekirk (b c1370), a progenitor of Learmonth of Dairsie, married a Margaret Douglas



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Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022