Dean Castle: 14th C tower on left, 15th c palace on right.

Today, I visited Dean Castle  near Kilmarnock, about 30 minutes S.W. of Glasgow. This fortification has a long history but in conjunction with the associated country park is now operated as a visitor attraction by the local council.

Essentially, the castle builds comprise two parts:

  • A stand-alone keep or tower which was built about 1350 by the Boyd family, Lords of Kilmarnock. The design focused on defence as evidence by walls some 2-3 metres thick, few windows and just one entrance door positioned high above ground level. Absence of arrow slits would indicate that defensive fire was concentrated from the roof of the building.

Here is a video clip of the inner courtyard and Grand Hall.

Tower at Dean Castle, Scotland

  • A small palace with an attached tower built by Robert Boyd about 1460. This features a large number of windows and projecting battlements on the tower, with latter designed to provide advantage to defenders by facilitating downward fire.

Palace and Tower at Dean Castle, Scotland

Inside the tower is a Grand Hall where is housed a collection of high quality medieval armour.

Inside Grand Hall at Dean Castle

Inside the palace are genuine 16th century documents from Mary Queen of Scots and her contemporaries.

Paradoxically, the buildings are in excellent conditions notwithstanding destruction by fire in 1735 and undergoing many changes of ownership. Extensive restoration was undertaken by the 8th Lord Howard de Walden between 1908-1936 and hence represents a 20th century perception of a medieval castle. The castle was presented to the people of Kilmarnock by the son of the 8th Lord in 1975. Entrance is free and guided tours are provided at regular intervals.

The castle and connected country park is very family orientated and deserving of a visit. There are deer and other animals to view in the extensive parkland. Here is a video clip of the small herd of Fallow Deer.

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