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Preserving the Past for the Future

Old Bleary's grand design – Dundonald Castle


The remains of this massive royal castle, built for King Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371, stand on a hill overlooking the village of Dundonald in Ayrshire. It was the favourite castle of the unfortunate King Robert II (known as Old Bleary) who died there on 19th April 1390.

Dundonald tower
Dundonald Castle - King Robert II's grand tower house

Robert built his tower on the remains of an extensive, but destroyed, castle of the previous century. He incorporated part of its walls into his massive double-vaulted tower house but it was not until recent years that the full extent of the early work was revealed. This was a multi-towered castle featuring an enceinte (enclosing wall) with double gatehouses similar to that of Rhuddlan in Wales. After capture by the Scots, as was the custom, all had been levelled.

Dundonald model
Model of the original Dundonald Castle. King Robert’s tower can be seen incorporated with the gatehouse on the right

It has often been remarked that Dundonald Castle lacked the space suitable for a king and, indeed, in the15th century additional accommodation was added. The uppermost floor was reserved for the royal apartments and had a false groined vault on a barrel vault. The castle only came into state care in the 1960s and is now managed by a dynamic local association. You can visit the Friends of Dundonald Castle's website here .

The SCA visited Dundonald Castle in April 2016.


Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.


Date posted: 24 Jun 2016Last updated: 24 Jun 2016


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