Dairsie Castle

Dairsie Castle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dairsie Castle

A 16th-century tower house overlooking the River Eden a mile (1.5 km) south of Dairsie in Fife, Dairsie Castle had become completely ruinous but was rebuilt and restored to domestic use in 1996. This Z-plan tower house was once the property of the Bishops and Archbishops of St Andrews.

A castle is first mentioned on this site in 1160 and David II (1324 - 1371) was said to have spent much of his childhood here. It was here too that the bitterly divided Scottish Lords met in 1335 to decide how best to deal with the English, who were able to invade Scotland at will. The current structure was largely the work of the Learmonth family in the early 16th century and comprises a three-storey central block, constructed of rubble over vaulted cellars, and three ashlar towers. The castle was subject to a siege by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton (c.1516-81) in 1575. James VI escaped to Dairsie in 1583 following his imprisonment after the Ruthven Raid. In 1616 Dairsie passed to the Spottiswoodes and became the home of John Spottiswood, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Chancellor of Scotland (1565 - 1639), who built the adjacent Dairsie Old Parish Church in 1621. The castle became the property of the Morrisons, then the Scotts of Scotstarvit and remained continuously occupied until the 19th century when it fell into ruin. At that time one of the towers was used as a doo'cot.

In 1996 the castle was completely restored; the vaulted cellars were converted for use as a bedroom and bathroom, the immense main bedroom was located in the central block, with further bedrooms accommodated in the towers. The great hall includes a minstrels' gallery and the entrance hall has a painted roof portraying the seals of the Bishops of St Andrews. There is a herb garden, parterre and extensive lawns, together with an avenue of lime trees, planted in 1997.

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