Portencross Castle

The well-maintained (and locked) towerhouse of Portencross
The well-maintained (and locked) towerhouse of Portencross

Even though it was blustery (clear, but boy, was it windy) we walked out along the beach and came across this tiny tower house in the town of Portencross. It looks to be in good repair, or at leat maintained, but the gate was locked and we couldn’t get inside. The base of the tower seems solid, although the top of the tower is crumbling.

Portencross Castle was built in the 14th century. The walls are massive and the tower is rather stout, which is probably why it still stands. A taller tower was added to the original tower house, with a vaulted first storey. A kitchen was added in the new tower, as well as a second kitchen on the first floor. It is good shape now, although a gale stripped off the roof in 1739.

The property then passed to the Ross family, but they supported the losing side in the wars of independence and Robert Bruce gave the lands to the Boyds of Kilmarnock. Robert I and II visited the castle on their way to Rothesay. The Boyds held the property until 1785, when it passed to the Fullertons of Overton.

The tower had two entrances and two stairs — almost as if it contained living quarters for a family and a military garrison, which would make sense given it’s position near the mouth of the Clyde. The top of the second tower could be reached without disturbing the occupants of the smaller, original tower house. A rather interesting feature of the castle is that the staircase from the first floor is straight, then a spiral stair to the upper floors.

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