ABERDOUR CASTLE Location – OS map 66 (NT 193-854)
Situated in Aberdour, south of the A921, north of Aberdour harbour, just south of the railway station.
Aberdour was a property of the Mortimer family. The stretch of water between Aberdour and Inchcolm is named "Mortimers Deep" after the sea burial of one of the family. The Douglas Earls of Morton became owners in 1342. In the 16th century James Douglas was made Regent Morton. He was later executed for his part in the murder of Darnley the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. The castle was abandoned in 1725 although part of it may have been occupied by Robert Watson of Muirhouse until his death in 1791. The castle was later damaged by fire, and the keep partially collapsed in 1844. The nearby parish chapel of St.Fillians may date from the 12th century.
The structure is a ruinous E-plan tower house consisting of a 14th century keep with later wings and extensions, some of which are complete. A range of buildings with a bakehouse and brewhouse were added in the 16th century. About 1630 the castle was extended by a block containing a long gallery. The castle had a walled courtyard, of which a round turret survives. The terraced garden has been restored. A beehive docot stands nearby.
ROSSEND CASTLE Location – OS map 66 (NT 225-859)
Rossend Castle stands within Burntisland, on a rocky hill, above the harbour and south of the A921.
The lands originally belonged to the Abbey of Dunfermline, there may have been a castle here from that time. The lands passed to the Duries, then to the Melvilles of Murdocarnie. In 1563 while staying here Mary Queen of Scots had her privacy compromised by the French poet Chatelard who had secreted himself in the Queens bedchamber. Chatelard had been pardoned for doing the same thing when at the Palace of Holyrood. On this occasion he was not pardoned but was executed by beheading at the mercat cross in St Andrews. The castle was held against Cromwell but was easily taken by his forces in 1651, and he stayed on here. The castle was acquired by the Caskie family who were created Lords of Burntisland, The Jacobites briefly held the castle during the 1715 rising. The building was used as a boarding house until 1952, after which it deteriorated and became roofless. It was saved from demolition in 1971. It has since been restored and is used as an office for a firm of architects.
Standing high above the harbour this is an altered and extended 16th century tower house. There are sections that may date from the 13th and 14th centuries. The earliest dateable tower rises to three storeys with a parapet and is dated 1544.
The entrance is in a stair-wing. The main stair rises to the first floor hall and on to the second floor. The upper levels are reached by means of a turnpike stair.
SEAFIELD TOWER Location – OS map 66 (NT 280-885)
About 1.5 miles north of Kinghorn, east of the A921, east of the main railway line. On the coastal footpath by the shore.
This was a property of the Moultray family, and probably remained occupied and in use until after the last laird was killed in the Jacobite rising of 1715. The lands passed to the Earl of Melville.
Seafield tower stands on top of a rocky outcrop close to the shore. It is a ruined 16th century tower house of four storeys. A small external stair tower was added. Portions of the barmkin wall that formed the courtyard, are still visible. A round corner tower was known as the Devils Tower. There is a harbour nearby that remained in use until the 19th century.
Little remains of the internal detail of Seafield. Window and fireplace openings can be seen on the remaining inside walls. The springing of the basement barrel vault arch can be seen, as can the beam positions of the upper floor levels.
RAVENSCRAIG CASTLE Location – OS map 59 (NT 291-925)
About 1 mile north and east of Kirkcaldy railway station, on the coast south of the A955, about 1 mile west of Dysart.
The castle of Ravenscraig was started, by James II, prior to 1460. He was much interested in Artillery and Ravenscraig was one of the first castles in Scotland built to withstand, and to return, artillery fire. James II was killed when one of his cannons exploded during a siege of Roxburgh Castle. The castle was never completed to its original plans. James III forced William Sinclair Earl of Orkney to accept Ravenscraig as a replacement for his Kirkwall Castle, in Orkney, which the King wanted for himself. Ravenscraig was then held by the Sinclair Earls of Roslin, who completed the castle as it is today. The castle became un-occupied from about 1650.
Ravenscraig is an altered 15th century castle and courtyard. It consists of two D-Plan towers with very thick walls. The courtyard behind these towers is cut off from the mainland approach by a deep ditch. A two-storey block with a broad parapet links the two towers. The walls are pierced by gunloops. Due to the massive wall thickness each tower has room for only one chamber on each.
MACDUFF'S CASTLE Location – OS map 59 (NT 344-972)
Behind a large cemetery on the outskirts of East Wemyss, south of the A955, on a footpath near the shore.
This may have been the site of the castle of the MacDuff Thanes (Earls) of Fife in the 11th century. Nothing traceable to that date survives. The existing castle was built, by the Wemyss family, in the 14th century. It passed by marriage to the Livingstones, who in 1530 exchanged it for other lands with the Colvilles of Ochiltree. In 1630 it returned to the Wemyss family, later Earls of Wemyss, but was little used after that time as the family had several other castles. In 1666 the Countess of Sutherland, who was a daughter of the 2nd Earl of Wemyss, lodged her children here during an outbreak of plague in Edinburgh. The upper parts of the keep were dismantled in 1967.
The castle that remains is a ruined 14th century keep and courtyard. The oldest part is a gate-tower standing at one end of the main block. The keep was enclosed by a curtain wall, which had ranges of buildings inside. Little of these remain visible. An outer wall and courtyard with corner towers was added at a later date.
Newark - St Monans - Monance Castle
NEWARK / ST MONANS /MONANCE CASTLE Location – OS map 59 (NO 518-012)
About 2 miles east and north of Elie, on the coastal footpath south of the A917, about 0.5 miles west of St Monans/Monance, by the sea.
The existing castle was generally known as the Newark (new wark or work) of St Monans or Monance from the name of the nearby village. It was originally owned by the Kinloch family, but then passed to the Sandilands of Curvie. The Sandilands became bankrupt and sold the castle in 1649 to the Covenanter General Sir David Leslie. Leslie served under Gustave Adolphus, and joined the army of the Covenanters in 1643. He fought at Marston Moor in 1644 and defeated the Marquis of Montrose at Philiphaugh in 1645. He was defeated by Cromwell at Dunbar in 1650, and was captured after the battle of Worcester in 1651. Following this he was held captive for 9 years in the Tower of London. He died in 1682. The property passed to the Anstruther family and then to the Bairds of Elie.
The structure is a very ruined 15th century castle, which was altered and extended in the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle covers a rocky headland over the Firth of Forth. The oldest part of the castle seems to have been a hall house with 3 vaulted chambers below the main hall. Little of this structure exists above the hall floor level. The vaults were accessed directly from the original courtyard, portions of the curtain wall remain. A tower house and large round tower stand at one end of the hall house ruins, The tower house was later extended and remodelled, windows were enlarged and Dutch style gables were added on top of the older corbiestepped gables.
PITCULLO CASTLE Location – OS map 59 (NO 413-196)
About 3 miles east and south of Leuchars, on minor roads west of the A92, about 1.5 miles south east of Balmullo, at Pitcullo.
Pitcullo was originally a property of the Sibbalds, but passed to the Balfours in the 16th century, and was later held by the Trents. It had become derelict but has now been completely restored. The restoration has involved the demolition of much of the later structures leaving the castle standing in its own landscaped gardens.
Pitcullo is a late 16th century L-Plan tower house, consisting of a main block of three storeys and a stair wing. To this has been added 17th century alterations, including a square tower. A corbelled out stair tower, in the re-entrant angle, was crowned by a square cap-house. A semi-circular stair tower projects from the rear of the building. A wall near the entrance is pierced by a gunloop. The walls are harled and whitewashed.
The main entrance is at the foot of the stair-wing. The basement is vaulted and contained a kitchen with a fireplace and oven. The main stair in the wing climbs to the first floor hall only. The private chambers above this level are accessed by the turnpike stair in the turret and by another private stair.
BALGONIE CASTLE Location – OS map 59 (NO 313-007)
Situated about 3.5 miles east of Glenrothes, on minor roads south of the A911 from Milton of Balgonie. On the south bank of the River Leven.
The castle was built by the Sibbalds who held the property from before 1246, but it passed by marriage to Sir Robert Lundie, later Lord High Treasurer, who extended the castle around 1496 James IV visited the castle in 1496, as did Mary Queen of Scots, in 1565. It was sold in 1635 to Alexander Leslie, who fought for Gustave Adolphus of Sweden during the 30 Years War. He was made a Field Marshal. Leslie was captured at Alyth in Angus after the battle of Dunbar in 1650, while on the losing side against Cromwell, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Only the intervention of the Queen of Sweden saved his life. He died at Balgonie in 1661. Balgonie was captured and sacked by Rob Roy MacGregor and 200 clansmen in 1716. The Castle was sold to the Balfours of Whittinghame in 1824. The Tower has been restored, and the castle is open to the public every day of the year. The chapel is used for regular services and many weddings are held here.
The tower of Balgonie Castle is a fine 14th century keep of five storeys and a garret within a crenellated parapet. The parapet has open rounds at three corners. The fourth corner has a caphouse surmounting the turnpike stair that rises from the first floor. The basement and first floor hall of the keep are both vaulted, and originally had separate entrances. The hall has no provision for a fireplace, but openings in the wall at the crest of the vaulting show where the smoke from a central open fire would have escaped. The keep is constructed of fine dressed ashlar blocks, and stands in a courtyard, which encloses a range of ruinous buildings. The ranges date from the 14th to the 18th centuries. One range which dates mostly from 1496 incorporates a tower with vaulted basements and a chapel. This stands adjacent to the main keep but was separated by a gap that was spanned by a bridge. Around 1666 a building was inserted between the tower and the hallhouse, this contained a scale and platt stair. This afforded more convenient access to the upper floors of the keep. Another 15th or 16th range was later remodelled between 1635 and 1641 and again in 1702. The courtyard was entered via a gatehouse dating mostly from the 15th century and contains two guardrooms, plus a prison with a privy.
DAIRSIE CASTLE Location- OS map 59 (NO 414-160)
Situated about 3 miles east and north east of Cupar, on minor roads south of the A91, just south of Dairsie Mains, west of the River Eden and west of the railway.
The original castle was a property of the Bishops and Archbishops of Saint Andrews. David II is said to have spent much of his boyhood here, and in 1335 the Scottish Estates met at the castle. Prior to its recent total restoration, the remaining buildings were mainly the work of the Learmouth family, who held the estates from the 16th century. It passed to the Spottiswoodes in 1616, and in 1621 the nearby church was built by John Spottiswood, Bishop of Saint Andrews. He is said to have written much of the "History of the Church and State in Scotland" at Dairsie Castle. Sir Robert Spottiswoode, President of the Court of Session, was executed for being a Royalist in 1650. The castle passed to his father-in-law, George Morrison and later to the Scotts of Scotstarvit. The castle had become a ruin prior to its restoration in the 1990s.
Dairsie castle is a reconstruction of a 16th century Z-plan tower house. It consists of a main block with two round towers at opposite corners. A third tower of rectangular plan rises on the front face of the main block this contained the original entrance.
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