Ravenscraig Castle

Ravenscraig Castle, Kirkcaldy
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Ravenscraig Castle, Kirkcaldy

The considerable remains of Ravenscraig Castle are located to the northeast of Kirkcaldy, a mile (1.5 km) southwest of Dysart, on a rocky outcrop between shingle beaches, overlooking the Firth of Forth. The castle was begun by James II in 1460, immediately before his unfortunate death, for his wife Mary of Gueldres, who died here in 1463. It was acquired by Lord Sinclair in 1470, as part of an enforced swap with James III allowing the King to gain the Earldom of Orkney and its associated lands.

Ravenscraig was one of the first castles in Britain designed to withstand assault by cannon fire. It comprises two D-plan tower, with exceptional 4.25-m (14-foot) thick walls, linked by a two-storey central block. The land slopes steeply towards the sea on one side and the castle is protected on its landward side by a deep rock-hewn ditch. The castle was badly damaged by Oliver Cromwell's forces in 1651. It remained a Sinclair possession until 1898, was used as an ammunition store during the First World War and finally passing into the care of the state in 1955.

Although ruined, many structural elements remain as do many of the features of 15th-17th Century castle life. Ravenscraig is now maintained by Historic Environment Scotland, although much of it is inaccessible because of the lack of an on-site custodian.

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