Aird’s Castle

Aird’s Castle Details

Airds Castle, ruins of C15 castle of Macdonalds later held from the Crown on coastal promontory site

  • Closest To: Carradale, Saddell
  • Access: S.O.A.C. Public Access
  • Grid Reference: NR820383

Airds Castle is a ruined courtyard castle on a rocky outcrop near Carradale on the Kintyre peninsular facing Arran. The castle has a very fragmentary history, but is likely the castle of “Ardcadane” mentioned in a charter of 1498.

The courtyard wall surrounds the summit of the outcrop, and was perhaps 1.5 metres thick. The only easy approach was to the north-west, where a ditch appears to have been cut in the rock, creating a promontory. A path climbing up the south-west facing side of the outcrop leads to a gap in the wall which may be indicative of the original gate location, and a smaller gap in the wall at the head of a track up from the shore may represent a sea gate. The highest part of the wall is perhaps 3.5 metres high, and there is no visible evidence for any courtyard buildings, although one might expect foundations of a hall at least to be lurking beneath the turf somewhere.

The castle was probably a foundation of the Macdonalds – the Macdonalds of Dunyvaig on Islay were also lords of Kintyre. John Macdonald of Dunyvaig was the younger brother of Donald of the Isles, and a grandson of King Robert II, and had been granted extensive lands on Kintyre including Airds in 1386. It seems possible that the castle predates him – his father John had been granted Kintyre as a new estate by Edward Balliol in 1336, it presumably having been held by MacDougalls previously. John then had the grant confirmed by David II in 1343, and received a further gift of Kintyre from Robert Stewart in 1350. After Robert became king, he issued a confirmation grant to John of lands including Kintyre in 1376.

The Lords of the Isles proved to be a thorn in the side of the Stewart dynasty with their quasi-autonomous rule, and this culminated in their forfeiture in the reign of James IV. Airds was part of a grant made to Adam Reid of Barskimming in Ayrshire in 1498, but was confirmed to the Macdonalds of Dunyvaig in the mid 16th century as part of the Barony of Bar. By 1605 the Reids had regained possession, but by this time it is very likely that the castle had long been abandoned. It can be reached on foot, but there are no maintained paths.

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