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home page events castle tours SCA Castle Tour To The Dunfermline Area - Feb 2003


SCA Castle Tour To The Dunfermline Area - Feb 2003


February


Rosyth Castle

Rosyth Castle

ROSYTH CASTLE

Location - OS map 65 (NT 115-820)

2 miles west and south of Inverkeithing. By Rosyth dockyard. West of minor road from the B981. South of Rosyth.

Structure

Once standing on a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway, Rosyth Castle is an altered 15th century. keep. It is formed on the L-plan. It consists of a main block with a slight projection that accommodates part of the turnpike stair. It stands in a ruined 16th century. courtyard which has its entrance through a pend in the north or landward wall. The pend had gunloops to defend the entrance to the court. There are heavily worn heraldic panels above the pend one of these carries the date 1561.The keep is built of good quality ashlar and has walls ten feet thick. The tower rises to sixty feet and still retains its parapet. The parapet is unusual in that it projects only slightly and is not supported on corbels, the lack of open corner rounds suggests an early construction date. The entrance is in the re-entrant angle and leads through a round headed doorway to a lobby and to the vaulted basement, and to the stair to the first floor hall. The basement vault carries corbelling that would have supported an entresol timber floor under the stone vault. The main first floor is a lofty barrel vaulted chamber, it too has corbels for a half entresol floor. The windows are small and have small seats. The hall has a large window that was inserted in the 17th century. The garret storey above is roofless.

Brief History

Rosyth was a property of the Stewarts of Rosyth when it was erected to the Barony of Rosyth in 1428. They held the lands for 270 years until the beginning of the 18th century. It was for one of the family that Walter Bower, Abbot of Inchcolm, compiled a history of Scotland, known as the "Scotichronicon", in the 1440's. One of the family, Robert Stewart, was a strong supporter of Mary Queen of Scots and it was he who built the 16th century. gateway to the courtyard on which he put the initials M.R. for Marie Regina. James Stewart married Margaret Napier daughter of Napier of Mechiston, the inventor of logarithms, James opened the large window in the hall inscribing it J.S. and M.W. 1639. Lord James Stewart was imprisoned in 1647 for being a Royalist and supporting Charles I. Rosyth was battered and plundered by Cromwell's forces in 1650. In the 18th century. Rosyth passed to the Primrose Earl of Rosebery, then to the Hope Earl of Hopetoun. It was eventually swallowed up by the naval dockyard as land was reclaimed from the Forth. The dockyard has now retreated leaving the castle in the midst of an industrial park.


Hill House

Hill House

HILL HOUSE

Location – OS map 65 (NT 092-860)

About 1 mile south of Dunfermline Abbey. On minor roads. East of the B9156 at Hill House.

Structure

Hill House on initial approach appears to be a 17th century L-plan house of three storeys with a five storey tower in the reentrant angle all constructed in fine grey ashlar. The tower is crowned by a parapet, which is pierced to create the lettering NI DEVS AEDIFICET DOMVN (Except the Lord build the house). The walls within the re-entrant angle are adorned by inscriptions of a religious nature. An panel above the original door was dated 1623 and carried the inscription, in Latin and Hebrew "Woe To Him That Hath Builded His House By Unrighteousness".

Some of the windows have decorated pediments, one shows a seated figure playing the harp, one shows a bearded man in 17th century. costume with an open book, a third panel contains a heraldic cartouche showing three buckles and the initials W.M. for William Monteith. Two long chimney stacks above the stair-tower are linked by a panel which has inscriptions in Latin and Hebrew declaring "This is Also Vanity and a Great Evil". Examination of the north, east and south walls of the house show that it is constructed in rubble and is without ornamentation. A small square tower projects from the east wall. This tower is tall and is offset on continuous corbelling, it looks as though it should contain a stair but does not. It appears to date from the late 16th C which is earlier than the the remainder of the house, and may well be a surviving feature of an earlier fortalice on that site. The house is much altered inside, it contained several fine fireplaces that had been removed from 17th century. buildings in Culross.

Brief History

William Menteith of Randieford acquired the lands of Hill in 1621. He was a pious elder of the Kirk. It "Twas he who built the house and wrote the goodly sayings". There is some debate as to whether he built a new house or substantially remodelled an earlier Structure as parts of the externals seem to date from the 16th century.


Airth Castle

Airth Castle

AIRTH CASTLE

Location – OS map 65 (NT 900-869)

About 4 miles north of Falkirk. On minor road west of A905. South of Airth. North of the Pow Burn 0.5 miles from the River Forth.

Structure

The oldest part of Airth Castle today consists of a squat 15th century. keep forming the south west corner, now known as Wallace's Tower. It is four storeys and a garret in height, with a crenellated parapet. The castle has evidence of at least four periods. The next oldest portion is the south east tower dating from the 16th century. It has a tall stair turret with a conical roof. A lesser two storey turret is corbelled out in the re-entrant angle. There is also a platform roof within a parapet which is projected on corbelling on the east side, it has one open round. Linking these two towers is a substantial main block of approximately the same height, with four dormer windows, dating probably from the late 16th or early 17th century. Another wing stretched northwards from the east tower, probably from the same period. This ends in a vast chimney-stack for the wide kitchen fireplace in the basement. The castle was much altered in the 19th century obscuring much of the older work.

Brief History

According to Blind Harry it was from an earlier castle here that Sir William Wallace rescued his uncle, the priest of Dunnipace. Wallace is said to have sacked the castle, while it was held by a garrison of 100 Englishmen. The existing castle was built by the Bruces at the beginning of the 15th century. Edward, the second son of Sir Robert Bruce of Clackmannan married Agnes, the heiress of the Airths or Erths of that Ilk in the 15th C and obtained the property. He may have built the west tower. The castle was burnt by James III in 1488 just before the fatal Battle of Sauchieburn, as the next Airth laird had taken the side of the rebel lords in support of Prince James against his father (James III). The new king, James IV granted £100 compensation for "the byggen of his Place that was brynt". His grandson married the daughter of the Earl of Linlithgow in 1547. He built the east tower. The castle passed by marriage to the Elphinstones, then to the Dundas family, and in 1717 was sold to the Grahams, who were made Earls of Airth in 1633. The castle is now used as a hotel.


Tullyallan Castle

Tullyallan Castle

TULLYALLAN CASTLE

Location – OS map 65 (NS 927-888)

About 0.5 miles north of Kincardine. On Minor roads west of the A977. Just west of Harkhill.

Structure

An unusual hall-house stronghold, Tullyallan Castle consists of a a 14th century. keep or hall-House, surrounded by a ditch. The entrance is in a projecting semi-octagonal stairtower and was defended by a draw-bridge and portcullis. A similar stairtower projects from the other end of the building. The hall is a fine chamber and is situated in the basement. It is vaulted with a central pier and has a moulded fireplace.

Brief History

Edward I of England ordered a castle here to be strengthened in 1304. The lands were held by the Douglas family in the 14th century, but by the 15th century had passed to the Blackadders, who built the existing castle. Sir John Blackadder of Tullyallan was executed in 1531 for the murder of the Abbot of Culross. Patrick Blackadder was probably murdered by the Homes of Wedderburn, after the Wedderburns had seized the Blackadder lands in the Borders. Tullyallan was acquired by the Bruces in 1605, and was inhabited until 1622. About 1820 a new castellated mansion was built 0.5 miles away and is now used as a police training college. The old castle is currently being restored for the Mitchell Trust.


Pittencrieff House
Pittencrieff House

PITTENCRIEFF HOUSE

Location – OS map 65 (NT 087-873)

In Dunfermline. A short distance from the Abbey Church. South of the A994 in Pittencrieff Park. The site is a strong one on the edge of a little ravine.

Structure

Whether it was built in 1616 or 1651 is not clear, but there are no defensive features such as vaulting, slit windows or gunloops remaining. Yet the traditional basic house still shows the old lines, T-planned main block and stair tower, crowstepped gables and tall sheer walling with heraldic decoration. Built with stone from the nearby royal palace at Dunfermline, Pittencrief House is a 17th century T-plan house of three storeys and a garret. It consists of a main block and a stair-tower, which rises a storey higher and is crowned by a defensive watch chamber or study. This top chamber is built out on corbelling presumably for decoration. The walls are harled and yellow washed. It was extended in 1740. The entrance is at the foot of the stair-tower an is surmounted by a cornice inscribed "Praised be God for al his giftis" above this is a panel bearing the arms of the builder Sir Alexander Clerk. Pediments of former dormer windows are built into the walling, one on the west gable also showing the Clerk arms and the initials S.A.C. There are claims the house was built earlier, but as the Earl of Dunfermline sold the lands of Pittencreiff to Sir Alexander in 1651, that date seems more probable and is in keeping with the architecture.

Brief History Pittencrieff is a good example of a substantial laird's house, and was a property of the Clerks in the 17th century. but was sold in 1762. It was held by the Hunts from 1800. The house was remodelled to form three galleries by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1908. It houses a collection of costumes and displays on the history of the house and park, as well as an art gallery.
Malcolm's Tower
Malcolm's Tower

MALCOLM'S TOWER

Location – OS map 65 (NT 087-873)

In Dunfermline's Pittencrieff Park not far west of the Abbey Church on minor roads south of the A994.

Structure

Malcolm's Tower is a ruined large 14th century keep, of which only the base remains, there may have been a stronghold here from the 11th century.

Brief History

The castle gets its name from Malcolm Canmore King of Scots. One tale is that the tower is where Malcolm Canmore (Ceann Mor) and Margaret Atheling, later made a saint, were married in 1068. It is also said that Maud later wife of Henry I of England, was born here.


Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey

DUNFERMLINE ABBEY AND PALACE

Location – OS map 65 (NT 089-872)

In Dunfermline. On minor roads south of the A994 or north of the B9156. North of Pittencrieff Park. South of the Abbey Church at Dunfermline Abbey.

Structure

Part of the buildings to the south of the Abbey Church were remodelled as a Royal Palace in 1587. The ruins are particularly impressive from Pittencrieff Glen, the palace consists of a range of buildings modelled from the guest range of the palace. The building had wide mullioned windows and elaborate vaulting.

Brief History

There appears to have been a Royal Palace here from the 14th century. when Edward I of England stayed here in 1303-4. Although he described Dunfermline as "not a church but a den of thieves" and had the place sacked and torched. David II was born at the palace in 1323, but it may have been burnt by Richard II of England in 1385. It was restored, and James I was born here in 1394. James IV, James V, and Mary, Queen of Scots, all visited.

The palace was remodelled in 1587 by Queen Anne wife of James VI, and Charles I was born at the palace in 1600, as was his sister Elizabeth, Queen of Bomemia, the "Winter Queen". Charles I used the palace in 1650, but it was abandoned soon afterwards, and unroofed in 1708. The Abbey was founded about 1070 by Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore, and it was at Dunfermline that they were married. Margaret was made a saint, and she and Malcolm were buried in the church, which became a place of pilgrimage. Abbot George Durie, the last abbot was responsible for removing their remains, and taking them to the continent, where the Jesuits of Douai secured her head, although it may have been lost through the French Revolution. The rest of their remains are said to have been taken to the church of St Lawrence at Escurial by Philip II of Spain. Robert Bruces body – although not his heart – is buried here. The Abbey was sacked in 1560, and fell into disrepair, although part of the church continued to be used.


Abbot House - Dunfermline

Abbot House - Dunfermline

ABBOT HOUSE

Location – OS map 65 (NT 089-875)

In Dunfermline a short distance north of Dunfermline Abbey. South of the A994. In the Maygate.

Structure

Abbot House consists of the remains of a substantial town house and was originally formed on the Z-plan with two projecting stair-towers to which additions have been made in subsequent times. Much of the addition seems to date from the 17th century which consist of a large wing on the east end, with a scale and platt stair, and a series of low buildings placed against the north side of the older house. It is believed that the doorway on the north side is of the later period and was inserted when the house was converted into two houses. The stone above the door is about 6ft 4inches long and 11 inches high and has an inscription "SEN VORD IS THRALL AND THOCHT IS FRE KEIPVEILL THY TONGE I COUNSELL THE".

The original entrance would probably have been in the stairtower re-entrant angle on that same north side The main block of the house contained four apartments three of these retain their original vaulting. The fourth room has had its vaulting removed and replaced with a flat ceiling. There is a turnpike stair in each projecting tower. These stairs terminate at first floor level with the upper chambers being accessed via corbelled out stair turrets set in the re-entrant angles. The original kitchen is now in the west house and retains its old arched fireplace. A second kitchen was created for the other house.

Brief History

The lands were originally the property of the Abbey which was dissolved in 1560. Abbot House is a late 16th C early 17th century. house built after the Reformation for Robert Pitcairn the Commendator of Dunfermline Abbey. He died in 1584. The property passed to Captain James Stewart, Earl of Arran, while other owners included the Master of Gray, the Gordon Earl of Huntly and Anne of Denmark wife of James VI. The house is now open to the public as a heritage centre, and has displays about the house and the town of Dunfermline.


THANKS TO OUR HOSTS


Details here are extracted from –
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 2 – Central Scotland
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter – The Castles of the Heartland of Scotland


(1) Related article: helensburgh - 2003

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