Ardstinchar Castle is a late medieval castle in the west coast of Ayrshire at the mouth of the River Stinchar. Only remnants of the castle keep remain to this day.
Ardstinchar Castle was built by Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar, originally a Dominican friar who left his monastery to travel to France, where he took part in the Hundred Years' War as a mercenary and led troops for Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orléans (1428–1429). He probably inherited the land from his brother, Alexander, who died without issue, and held it by 1429. With another brother, Thomas, he combined estates to form the Barony of Ardstinchar, but retained a liferent on his own land until his death in 1454. His descendants lived in Ardstinchar Castle for more than a century. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed at the castle on 8 August 1563. She is likely to have strolled and admired the view on the half turret walkway which still remains today.
A long-standing family feud between the Cassillis and the Kennedy Clan, which started in Hugh Kennedy's era, ended in 1601 with the murder of the last baron of Bargany and Ardstinchar. Jean Stewart, the widow of Bargany, who had been a lady in waiting to Anne of Denmark, stayed on at Ardstinchar and resisted an attempt to evict her in 1603. She died in 1605. The family fortunes were lost, and the estate was bought by Sir John Hamilton of Letterick, son of the 1st Marquis of Hamilton. By 1770, the castle had fallen into disrepair and was quarried to provide stone for the construction of a three-arch bridge over the River Stinchar, as well as several houses and an inn in Ballantrae, now the King's Arms Hotel.
Little remains of the castle today apart from the ruins of the keep on a rocky hill. The original castle was wedge-shaped and had three square towers connected by battlement walls. The gatehouse was on the north side, and the keep was in the southeast part of the courtyard with a long hall house alongside.
The remains of the castle are situated on the rock outcrop summit near the river. The main tower is 8.7 by 6 metres and walls are 1.1 metres thick. A rock-cut trench lies outside the north-east courtyard wall, and there is another shallow trench in the west.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.