Dundonald Castle is situated on a hill overlooking the village of Dundonald, between Kilmarnock and Troon. Dundonald Castle is a fortified tower house built for Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371 and it was used as a royal residence by Robert II and his son Robert III.
The present castle stands on land where evidence suggests there was a hill fort. It is thought that a mixture of large timber-built roundhouse and straight-sided structures occupied the interior. There have been three medieval castles present on this site. The first was built by one of the stewards of the king of Scots, most probably Walter, the first steward, who came to Scotland in 1136. There is no surviving evidence of this castle above ground today.
The second castle was built in the late 13th Century by Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward, this castle was predominantly built of stone. It would have been one of the grandest baronial residences of its time. It was largely destroyed by the Scottish during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the early 14th century. King Robert the Bruce's policy was to slight (demolish) most castles so they could not be used by enemies including much greater castles than Dundonald, such as Edinburgh Castle and Roxburgh Castle. There is little remaining of this castle, however there is a well and a rounded stump of a tower near to the present.
The third castle was built by Robert Stewart, probably to mark his accession to the throne as Robert II in 1371. It was three storeys high.
The top floor above the lofty stone vault was the upper hall – the great hall. It was for the more private use of the king and family. The first floor was the lower of the two halls – the laigh hall. It would have been used for more public activities like feasting and the holding of the baron court. The ground floor was a storage area. It was probably originally subdivided providing cellars for different commodities like wine, ale, foodstuffs and fuel.
The tower house was extended in the late 14th century to add additional private chambers and a prison. The outer courtyard (called more properly the barmkin) was completed and ancillary buildings (stables, bakehouses, brewhouses, smithy, etc.) built against the barmkin wall.
The third castle comprised almost everything you see above ground today, including the tower which dominates the hill.
There is a visitor centre at the foot of the hill, which includes a cafe, souvenir shop and an interpretive exhibition. The exhibition outlines the history of the castle and its preceding buildings with detailed models of the earlier castles on the site.
The visitor centre is owned by South Ayrshire Council and the castle is owned by Historic Scotland. Both the castle and the visitor centre are operated by the Friends of Dundonald Castle. The castle was made a scheduled monument in 1920 and the schedule was updated in 2017.References:
First record of Kastelholma (or Kastelholm) castle is from the year 1388 in the contract of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, where a large portion of the inheritance of Bo Jonsson Grip was given to the queen. The heyday of the castle was in the 15th and 16th centuries when it was administrated by Danish and Swedish kings and stewards of the realms. Kastelhoma was expanded and enhanced several times.
In the end of 16th century castle was owned by the previous queen Catherine Jagellon (Stenbock), an enemy of the King of Sweden Eric XIV. King Eric conquered Kastelholma in 1599 and all defending officers were taken to Turku and executed. The castle was damaged under the siege and it took 30 years to renovate it.
In 1634 Åland was joined with the County of Åbo and Björneborg and Kastelholma lost its administrative status.