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Dunure Castle

 

Andrew Spratt contributes:

On the 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.

In 1429 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.

 In 1563 Mary 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.

Lord 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.

By the 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.

 

 

 

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