“ Medieval castle in Ayrshire, Scotland. „
Review of Doon Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland
I visited Doon Castle in May 2012. The castle can be found on the banks of Loch Doon, access is via a small narrow single track road off the A713, near to Dalmellington, Ayrshire. The castle is a ruin, so obviously is unoccupied.
Entrance is free and I believe the castle is cared for by the Historic Scotland Society.
**History of Doon Castle**
The castle is an unusual one, being an eleven sided structure. The castle was originally built an an island towards the southern end of Loch Doon, a land-locked loch. The castle is thought to have been built on the site of a much older, possibly iron age fort. The castle was originally built around 1275. It was designed and built by Sir Christopher Seton, who was a brother-in-law of Robert Bruce, King of Scots. Doon Castle gave refuge to Robert Bruce on several occasions. The castle was built to withstand siege and access was only possible from a heavily guarded causeway. This was not as impenetrable as the designer has hoped as the castle fell into the hands of the English when the castle was captured some time after the battle of Methven in 1306.
History later records that the castle was owned by the Kennedy family and was taken from them by William Crauford of Lefnoris in 1511. The castle was largely destroyed in the reign of James V (1513 - 1542). According to the information board on site, rumour is that the castle's portcullis gates, still lie submerged after being thrown into the loch during an attack.
In 1826, nine ancient canoes containing an oak war-club and a battle-axe were discovered nearby and some of these artefacts can be seen at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.
Doon Castle is now located on dry land, not the original island. The reason for this is that in the 1930s, the level of the loch was raised in connection with the Galloway hydro-electric scheme. The castle island became submerged, but the outer shell of the castle was dismantled and painstakingly re-built, stone by stone, on the shore near Craigmulloch Farm, where it can visited today.
When the level of the loch is very low, it is possible to see the top of the castle island and some of the remaining stones of Doon Castle.
Doon Castle is situated in an area of outstanding beauty. The road to the castle follows the banks of the loch and it is a lovely area to drive through.
As mentioned Doon Castle is a ruin and it has been relocated from it's original site. The castle is open to the public all year round and it is a fascinating place to visit. The walls are incredibly thick and built from local stone. The castle must have been a magnificent sight in it's heyday, parts of the ornate fireplaces and door lintels can still be seen.
The access to the castle is sloping and slightly rough underfoot so care needs to be taken. There are several interesting information boards dotted around the site and I found these to be really informative. Visitors are requested to treat the castle with respect, not to climb on the stonework, camp in the grassy open areas or to leave litter. Sadly, when I visited, some mindless people had disregarded the requests and the remains of a camp fire and some rubbish had been left within the castle walls. Dogs are welcome at Doon Castle, however they must be under close control as the castle is located within a farming community.
Whilst there are no facilities as such at Doon Castle, there is free car parking, a small tea rooms about 500 yards away and some lovely walks close by. Visitors can also avail themselves of free fishing on the loch. This seemed to be a very popular pastime when we visited as there were several fishermen enjoying their hobby from the loch side.
Tourists who want a meal or WC's will find these at the Doon resevoir about 3 miles away.
There is also a forest drive at the end of the Doon Castle road which, I believe returns you to the Dalmellington road after winding through the forest. We did not do this drive as we were travelling in a motor home and were unsure of the road width!
I would recommend this castle to anyone on a touring holiday in the area. Free entry and a lovely location all make for a pleasant place to spend an hour or two. The castle has a lovely atmosphere and it is in such a tranquil location. When standing within the castle walls, it is hard to believe that Doon castle had a bloody thirsty and chequered history!
I must stress however that this castle is not accessible by public transport. You really do need a car or other vehicle in order to visit.
Thank you for reading
First published elsewhere, June 2012
N.B My review may be found on other sites under the same user name