bleak west coast of Scotland five miles south of Ayr, perched on a craggy
cliff top knoll stands the rubble
ruin of Dunure castle. Originally built for the Kennedy family (Earls
of Cassillis). The site consists of a shell of a late 13th century
oblong keep on the main knoll with the fragmented remains of two
additional wings (possibly a chapel and kitchen) built on the landward
side in the 15th and 16th centuries. Though the keep also had 16th century
battlements and bartizans added to it's earlier frame.
John Mor MacDonald was killed at Dunure castle when talks between the
Macdonald's and King James I's man James Campbell broke out into violence.
Why a Kennedy castle was used for this meeting is unclear perhaps it was
regarded a neutral ground? King James to distance himself from Mor's
murder then executed Campbell. However the MacDonalds still broke out in
rebellion defeating the King's army at Inverlochy castle.
Queen of Scots stayed at Dunure on her Royal tour down the west coast
to Glenluce Abbey then on to Whithorn Priory. Later Gilbert Kennedy, 4th
Earl of Cassillis stole the lands of Glenluce by using a Monk to forge the
land charter signatures. Soon after the Monk had completed this task he
was murdered by a hired assassin. Who in turn was arrested and hung by the
Kennedies on a false charge of theft, to further hide their treachery. In
1565, the Earl imprisoned the Commendator of Crossraguel
Abbey at Dunure and roasted him alive to try and force him into
renouncing his claim to Abbey lands.
Bargany (who also desired the Abbey lands himself) sent a small force of
his men to sneek into Dunure by surprise and rescue the Commendator.
Unfortunately the plan went wrong with his force trapped inside the keep.
The Kennedies then besieged their own castle using the additional building
as cover to try and mine into the base of the keep. During the siege Lord
Bargany's men dismantled some of the battlements dropping them down
through the roofs of the lower buildings injuring some of the Earls men.
Suddenly, Lord Bargany appeared with a large army ensuring the commendator
and his men's safe return. And forcing the Kennedies to mediate a
settlement regarding the Abbey lands.
late 1700's, Dunure Castle, like so many Scottish castles became used as
the local quarry leaving the sad shell that remain today, hiding it's
former glory as a home of the Kennedies a place of intrigue and deceit.