Fordell Castle is a restored 16th-century tower house. The earliest charter in the Henderson of Fordell papers dates from 1217.
It is not known when the original castle structure was constructed, but the main entrance tower is believed to date from the 1400s. James Henderson, 3rd of Fordell, started to extend the castle in 1566. In 1568 the castle was damaged by fire, then rebuilt. Evidence of the fire can be seen to the left of the main entrance tower.
Sir John Henderson rebuilt St Theriot's Chapel in 1650 for use as a family mausoleum. The castle was damaged by Oliver Cromwell's army troops garrisoned at the castle in 1651.
In the 19th century, Fordell Castle was rarely occupied; the main hall is said to have been converted into a stable for a time. George Mercer-Henderson modernized the castle and installed the gates. The north front was rebuilt in 1855 (designed by Robert Hay).
Author James Henderson CBE (no relation), purchased the estate in 1953. He restored the castle to a good standard and it was inhabited for the first time since 1726. In 2007, Fordell Castle was sold for £3,850,000 to Stuart Simpson, the 17th Baron of Fordell, making it the fifth-highest-priced home ever sold in Scotland. The Castle remains a private residence.
The castle is a fortified house (fortalice) designed on a Z-plan running east-west, with square towers at the north-west and south-east corners, each containing a circular staircase. Fordell Castle is the only example of a tower house with two main stairs, each with its own door to the outside. The entrance is at the foot of the north stair tower and is through a studded door with a metal grate (yett) behind. It gives access to a vestibule. Stairs lead down to three vaulted basement chambers.The western chamber included stocks and branks, but the room has since been converted to a wine cellar. A rogue's collar or jougs hangs near the front entrance to the castle.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.