Places to Visit in Scotland
- Dundonald Castle, Ayrshire
Set on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding north Kilmarnock>, the castle is visible for miles around. Even so, it is surprisingly difficult to find the castle once you are in the village of Dundonald> itself! The prominent hill is believed to have been occupied before 2000BC and a wooden hill fort built on the site between 500 and 200BC.
In the 12th century an earthwork and timber fort was built by Walter, the High Steward of King David I>. A more substantial Dundonald Castle was originally built by the Stewart family in the 13th century. Much of that grand castle was destroyed during the Wars of Independence> with England early in the 14th century. The castle was then rebuilt in the middle of the 14th century by King Robert II and it is this castle which we see today. The castle was also used by King Robert III>. King Robert II died at Dundonald in 1390 and Robert III also died there, in 1406.
The castle was sold by King James III> to the Cathcart family in 1482 and was then bought by Sir William Cochrane in 1636. In 1644 Sir William used some of the stone from the castle to build himself a mansion of Auchans. Later, the perennial tourists, Dr Johnston> and James Boswell>, visited Dundonald Castle in 1773.
In recent years, the castle has been looked after by the Friends of Dundonald Castle and by Historic Scotland> who have a small visitor centre on the site.
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