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Ayr Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Ayr Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Wallace Tower; Auld Tower

Canmore ID 41756

Site Number NS32SW 12

NGR NS 3348 2218

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/41756

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NS32SW 12 3348 2218.

(NS 3348 2218) Castle (NR) (Site of)

OS 25" map (1961)

Ayr Castle was built by William the Lion about 1197. It had the sea and river on two sides, with a wet, low-lying area between it and the town. By 1197, Dodd considers that a motte-and-bailey type castle would be outmoded, and it would be unlikely if the royal castle at Ayr was slighter than a stone-built stronghold - a castle of enceinte, having towers along a curtain wall, with one donjon tower larger than the others, as shown on the burgh seal: The castle was burned by Bruce in 1298 but it seems to have been repaired and garrisoned by the enemy who were supplied by sea. The building of Cromwell's fort obliterated any remains of the castle (W Dodd 1972). The ONB however, states, "Traces of this castle are still to be seen on the mound not far from the tower of St John's Church, buried in the eastern bastion of Cromwell's Fort".

Name Book 1856; McCarter's Directory for Ayr 1832

There are no traces of antiquity at the published site, now occupied by a private garden.

Visited by OS (JLD) 28 December 1955

It is known that Ayr Castle was garrisoned by French troops after the death of James V in 1542, but it is fairly certain that it was not standing during the Cromwellian occupation. The supposition must be that the castle was destroyed some time between about 1550 and 1650. The mound or motte on which it stood has been totally levelled. The exact form of the castle defences is unknown, Dodd's reconstructed plan is misleading, being based solely on the depiction on the burgh seal and suggestions of earthworks on earlier plans of the burgh.

R Gourlay and A Turner 1977

Activities

Publication Account (1977)

A royal castle at Ayr dates back to 1197. It was pledged as part of Queen Johanna's dowry in 1221 (CDS, i, no.808). The fortress was bandied back and forth between the Scots and the English during the long period of the Wars of Independence. The final destruction of Ayr Castle remains a shrouded mystery. French troops garrisoned it after the death of King James Vin 1542, but it is fairly certain that it was not standing during the period of Cromwellian occupation. The supposition must be that the final vestiges of the castle disappeared in the century c .1550-1650 (Paterson, 1863, i, 11). The mound or motte on which the castle stood is today totally levelled, leaving no traces of antiquity. In 1954 the castle site was occupied by a private garden (Ordnance Survey, Record Cards, Reference NS 32 SW 12).

Information from ‘Historic Ayr: The Archaeological Implications of Development’, (1977).

References

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