Region : Ayrshire
Location : Ardrossan, Just off A78
Details :Ardrossan Castle is situated upon a rocky hill, which gives it its name, made up of ard, meaning height, and rossan, a rocky promontory. The present ruins are on the site of an earlier castle owned by the Barclay family. By the thirteenth century it had passed to the Ardrossan family.
The castle has long been deemed a distinctive feature of the city of Ardrossan. It was included, for example, in the tour book from 1847 titled Sylvan’s Pictorial Handbook to the Clyde and its Watering-Places by Thomas and Edward Gilks. There the castle is described as a marker of regional identity and subject antiquarian interest, from which beautiful views of the ocean can be seen:
Ardrossan was originally called “Castle Crags”, from the nature of the rocks jutting out as they once did from the Cannon hill on which the ruins of the castle stand, behind the present good hotel, the Tontine, and the opposite corner of the main-street, the site of which was once upon the same level. It was subsequently named Ardrossan, after the ancient family who owned the place, and was formerly part of the neighboring parish of Saltcoats. It cams to the present family of Eglintoun, by intermarriage with the Ardrossan family; and they became possessed of the property and inherited the title of Barons of Ardrossan—the tenure being contingent on keeping up the Cannon Hill before mentioned; in default of which the latter titled becomes extinct. Upon the hill six guns are mounted, outside the wall which surrounds the castle grounds. There is a view of a curious ruin from the outside—the shell of a quadrangular tower of great strength, with remaining portions of the walls, which owes its demolition, like many others, to Cromwell; the whole embedded in the surrounding trees. On the outside of the decayed walls are the remains of an old church-yard, containing numerous ruinous tombstones of an interesting character. The view from this eminence of the Isle of Arran to the west, of the beautiful bay to the east, which separates Ardrossan from Saltcoats—and immediately beneath, on the other side, the “Horse Island,” is peculiarly striking. (pages 97-99)
Paranormal Phenomena : The ruins are said to be haunted by the spectre of William Wallace on stormy nights
The castle is also associated with the Devil. Sir Fergus Barclay, also known as “the De’il of Ardrossan”, was a horseman, famous around the lands for his tremendous skill. The secret to his skill, however, was a magical bridle, which was given to Barclay by the Devil, in exchange for his soul. However, the Devil was tricked by Barclay into giving his soul back. Infuriated by this trickery, the Devil attacked the castle in his rage, and is said to have left his hoof prints on one of the rocks. Sir Fergus Barclay is buried in the castle chapel, situated a few hundred yards inland from the castle, further down the hill.