Aiket Castle

Aiket Castle Details

Aiket Castle, privately occupied C15 tower of the Cunninghames extended C17 and occupied to C20. Restored late C20

  • Closest To: Dunlop, Stewarton, Beith
  • Access: No Access
  • Grid Reference: NS388488

Aiket Castle is a much modified and extended tower house in a narrow glen overlooking Aiket Mill and the Glazert Burn. The earliest part of the building is a rectangular tower, probably dating to the early parts of the 16th century, which was extended by a wing of similar size which substantially increased the accommodation. A further single storey wing was added in the 18th century which formed one side of a courtyard, some of which may now be lost. Today the castle forms a small part of a far larger modern mansion complex, which is privately occupied and not open to the public. Little of the interior layout has survived into the modern day following extensive restoration in the 1970s and modernisation since.

The Cunninghame family were granted the lands of Aiket in the reign of James III, and appear to have been a particularly turbulent group, involving themselves actively in the family feuds, and several found themselves on trial for murder. In the latter 16th century one Lady Aiket found her husband so obnoxious that she was put on trial for poisoning him, but she failed to show up. In 1586 Alexander of Aiket was implicated in the murder of the 4th Earl of Eglinton, and outlawed – during his period of outlawry Aiket was burned. The required repairs may have triggered the decision to extend the castle. The family remained in occupation until James Cunningham decided to sell in the early 18th century after losing money in the Darien Scheme, and being in arms against the government in 1707. The castle was purchased by the Dunlop family, who made it more fashionable by reducing the height of the tower by a storey.

The castle suffered a disastrous fire in 1957 which destroyed so much of the castle that only parts of the shell survived, allowing a more modern internal arrangement to be created when it was restored.

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