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Baltersan Castle

Castle (16th Century)

Site Name Baltersan Castle

Classification Castle (16th Century)

Canmore ID 40810

Site Number NS20NE 1

NGR NS 28252 08760

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council South Ayrshire
  • Parish Kirkoswald
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kyle And Carrick
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS20NE 1 28252 08760

(NS 2824 0875) Baltersan Castle (NR) (remains of)

OS 1:10000 map (1972)

Baltersan Castle, now roofless and ruinous, has been a notably fine fortified laird's house of the late 16th century. It is built on a modification of the L-plan. The walls rise to three main storeys, and attic and a garret, with ashlar angle-turrets at the NW and SE corners. The ground floor is vaulted.

Although Baltersan is first mentioned in the early 16th century, it appears that the manor-place was not in existence at that time. Bryden notes a panel over the entrance, inscribed "This house was begun the first day of March 1584 by John Kennedy of Pennyglen and Margaret Cathcart, his spouse".

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; N Tranter 1965; Bryden 1889

Baltersan Castle is generally as described. It is in a fair state of preservation, although the upper portions of the building are in a crumbling state. The inscription over the entrance is now much weathered and indecipherable.

Visited by OS (JLD) 5 December 1955

No change to the previous report.

Revised at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (JRL) 7 June 1977

Architecture Notes


Built 1584.

Site Management (15 April 1994)

3 storey tower-house in sandstone on an L-plan. The walls of the castle are some 4ft thick. The angle-turrets feature shot holes and cannon spouts and are constructed from ashlar. Both are bordered by stone basins at the foot to collect rainwater. The north east tower contains a private stair leading to the upper floors, whilst the main stair rises to the second floor before being superseded by a turnpike stair. The square stair tower is topped with 3-tiered corbelling, a watch-room and an unusual square oriel window projected on machicolated corbels with shot holes to either side. The ground floor interior was originally vaulted and contained the kitchen and cellars. A great hall measuring 36x19ft was situated on the first floor, with windows on 4 sides, stone seats and wall closets.


Archaeological Evaluation (1996)

NS 282 087 Archaeological evaluation at Baltersan tower house (NMRS NS 20 NE 1) including trial trench excavations and a resistivity survey was undertaken by GUARD in advance of proposed development of the building.

Hand-excavated trial trenches were opened on all sides of the building, but the results overall were disappointing. A linear feature identified by geophysical survey at the W side of the building was found to be a wall remnant, but there was no other evidence for a barmkin or enclosing wall. A stone-lined cess pit was exposed at the S face of the building, directly below the outfall of twin garderobes, overhead. The outfall was in the form of a simple arch, built into the mortared rubble foundations of the tower. Otherwise, the immediate environs of the building were without significant archaeological remains.

South of the building, machine-excavated trial trenches recorded land-fills in the form of redeposited, sterile subsoil dumps up to 1m in depth. These had been used to extend the limit of a natural stream terrace, thus creating a small rounded terrace or garden 'pleasance' which overlooks (Crossraguel) Abbey Burn on that side of the building.

Finds include a few sherds of Early Modern pottery and a small quantity of butchered animal bone.

Sponsor: ARP Lorimer & Associates (Architects) for Lichtsome Hoose Ltd.

S Halliday and J O'Sullivan, 1996; MS/725/127


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