From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Culzean Castle

55° 21′ 15.84″ N, 4° 47′ 22.2″ W

  • History
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Culzean Castle is located on an outcrop of rock overlooking the Firth of Clyde, near Maybole, Carrick, in Ayrshire.

The castle was built between 1777 and 1792, by the order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis. Architect Robert Adam rebuilt the previous castle into a country house. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside, a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.

It is the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, but is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The Kennedy family gave the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945. They stipulated that the apartment at the top of the castle, was to be given to General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. The General first visited Culzean Castle in 1946 and stayed there four times, including once while President of the United States.

The armoury contains a propellor from a plane flown by Leefe Robinson when he shot down a German airship north of London in 1916.

To the north of the castle is a bay containing the Gas House, which provided town gas for the castle up until 1940. This group of buildings consists of the gas manager's house, the Retort House and the remains of the gasometer.

Since 1972 and until recently, an illustration of the castle has featured on the reverse side of five pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The castle and grounds were refurbished in April 2011, after a gift in the will of American millionaire William Lindsay to the National Trust for Scotland. Lindsay, who had never visited Scotland, requested that a significant portion of his $4 million go towards Culzean. Lindsay was reportedly interested in Eisenhower's holidays at the castle.

There are sea caves beneath the castle which are currently not open generally, but are open for tours throughout the summer.

Culzean Castle was used in the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man, as the castle of Lord Summerisle played by Christopher Lee. The scenes here were filmed between October and November 1972.