Loch Doon Castle was built in the late 1200s. The builder was probably an earl of Carrick – perhaps Robert the Bruce himself, who became the earl in 1292.
More likely the builder was his father, also Robert Bruce, who married Marjorie, Countess of Carrick, in 1272. Their son, the future King Robert I, was born at their chief seat, Turnberry Castle, on the Ayrshire coast, two years later.
Robert the Bruce was enthroned at Scone in 1306. Shortly afterwards, his force was routed by the English at Methven, west of Perth. The Bruce’s brother-in-law, Sir Christopher Seton, sought refuge in Loch Doon Castle – then being held for Bruce by Sir Gilbert de Carrick, chief of Clan Kennedy.
The Kennedys later became lords of Loch Doon, though their main castle remained at Dunure, also on the coast not far from Turnberry.
An island stronghold
Loch Doon Castle originally stood on a rocky island in the loch, immediately offshore from its present location. During low water this island is visible, and part of the castle still remains there.
The bulk of the castle was taken down, stone by stone, and re-erected on its present spot in 1935. The reason was the construction of a hydroelectric scheme, which would raise the water-level. It was important to save the castle’s stone curtain wall – it is a fine and unusual example of an enclosure castle of the late 1200s.
The curtain wall had eleven sides and was built of the highest quality. The wall had two entrances, like most castles. One was a simple but impressive pointed-arched main entrance, complete with door and portcullis (the iron portcullis is said to still lie out in the loch). The other was a postern, or back gate.
Vestiges of the original internal buildings can still be seen on the inside face of the curtain wall. These include a fine fireplace heating the great hall and an arched aumbry (cupboard). At a later date, probably in the early 1500s, the Kennedys built a tower house inside the curtain wall, the foundations of which were also brought across from the island.
- The remote location – seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Region – Glasgow, Clyde and Ayrshire
Turn right 2m south of Dalmellington on the A713 on to an unclassified road signed for Loch Doon.
Grid reference - NX 484 950.