Dean Castle

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Dean Castle and Country Park is situated on the north side of Kilmarnock with a Museum, Cafe, Kids Play, Woodland Walks and a Riding Centre. Entry to the Country Park and Castle Tours are free of charge.

The image below is of the car park at the entrance, with the Cafe and Visitor Centre up to the left, and the Castle following the main path straight through, about 300 yards from the car park.

The Deer Park is on the right side when walking up to the Castle. Map / KA3 1XB.

16 Large Images

Dean Castle Car Park Entrance image

The image below is of the Cafe and Visitor Centre that is situated by the main car park.

The Visitor Centre & Children's Corner are normally open 11.00 - 17.00 summer and 11.00 - 16.00 winter.

Dean Castle Visitor Centre image

Below is a view of Dean Castle as you aproach from the main car park. The Tower on the left is a Museum you can visit most of the time. The building to the right is the Palace, with guided tours of the Palace available most days from 12.15 - 16.15, each hour, April - September. Tel: 01563 554 734 to check times on your day of visit.

The Kids Play and Animal area is round to the right of the Castle, about another 100 yards further on.

This Grassland area is popular for laying around in sunny days, and for games with children. This area is also used for Classic Car Shows and a number of other events troughout the year.

Dean Castle image

The image below if of the Museum in the Tower. This Museum shows Armour and Weapons from the 1200s up to the 1700s.

Dean Castle Museum image

The image below is of the Kids Play area behind the Castle. There are a number of Animals in this area, Ponds, and many Woodland Walks, one with great views over the Castle.

The Riding Centre is on the north side of the park. Tel: 07979 502 826.

Dean Castle Kids Play image

The origins of Dean Castle began after Sir Robert Boyd served as a commander for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in Stirlingshire in 1314.

Bruce rewarded Sir Robert, for his bravery at Bannockburn, lands Bruce had taken from his Scottish rivals, the Balliols.

These lands were at Kilmarnock, Girvan, and Portencross.

The lands at Kilmarnock became the main residence of the Boyds', with them building their largest castle here under the name Dean.

The Tower House was built around 1350 for Sir Robert Boyds' son, Sir Thomas Boyd.

The main entrance to the Tower is from the first floor, common in those days, as it was safer than having a ground floor entrance.

These tower houses were common throughout Scotland at that time, not built to withstand an attack by a large army, more for attacks by neighbouring clans.

Fueds between neighbouring clans could run for years, with many murders between the clans. Marriage was often used to bring an end to long running disputes.

The Palace was built next to the Tower House for Robert Boyd, in the 1460s, after he had been appointed 1st Lord Boyd, by James II in 1454.

The Palace is also a fortified building, as clan buildings in Scotland without fortifications, were not built until after the Union with England in 1707, a time when Scotland became a safer place. Murdering your neighbour from that time on, could lead to a court case with a brutal execution.

The Boyds' strong support of Scottish Kings led to Thomas Boyd marrying King James II sister, Princess Mary, in 1467.

The marriage of Thomas Boyd to Princess Mary led to the Boyds' being accused of wanting to gain the throne of Scotland themselves.

Thomas Boyd had to live in Europe at that time, so as to avoid being excuted for treason, he is thought to have died in Europe in the early 1470s.

James Boyd, 2nd Lord Boyd, was killed in 1484, aged 16, by Hugh Montgomery of Eglinton. Eglinton being the main estate and castle of the Montgomerys', 10 miles west.

Robert Boyd, 4th Lord Boyd, slew Patrick Montgomery in 1523, and Sir Neil Montgomery in 1547.

The 5th Lord Boyd reached a settlement with the Montgomerys' in 1561, ending the feud that had lasted 77 years.

Robert Boyd, 5th Lord Boyd, fought for Mary Queen of Scots at the battle of Langside in 1568. Marys' defeat in the battle lead to her fleeing to England, where she was welcomed for some time.

Mary was arrested in England in 1586 after being accused of trying to claim her right to the English throne. She was beheaded in February 1587 for treason.

In 1735, a fire in the kitchen of the Palace at Dean reached the thatched roof, from where it spread to the roof of the tower house.

The Tower House and Palace lay in ruin for almost two centuries, with only some of the smaller buildings still used. The Boyds' had financial problems at that time, so could not afford to repair the castle.

The 4th Earl, William Boyd, fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender) in an attempt to overthrow George II, Hanover, and return the Stuarts' to the throne.

The fourth Earl was captured at the Battle of Culloden 16 April 1746, put on trial at the Tower of London, and beheaded on Tower Hill 18th August 1746.

The Boyds' sold Dean Castle and lands in 1746, with many owners over the following century.

The Dower House was built next to the castle in the mid 1800s for the estate managers.

The lands of Dean Castle passed through marriage to the de Waldens' in 1899, with them using the Dower House as a home until the Tower House and Palace were restored.

The 8th Lord Howard de Walden had restored the Tower House by 1908, and the Palace by 1946.

The 9th Lord Howard de Walden, gifted the Castle and Lands to the people of Kilmarnock in 1975, to be used a Country Park.

Alastair Boyd, 7th Lord Kilmarnock from 1975, died in 2009 aged 81. His eldest son is Simon John Boyd, born in 1978, has a son, Lucian Michael Boyd born in 2007.

The 7th Lord Kilmarnocks' brother, Dr Robin Boyd, is said to have been next in line to gain the title 8th Lord Kilmarnock, but seems not yet to have taken that honour.

Lord Kilmarnocks', over the centuries, were related through marriage to other Ayrshire Clans such as the Campbells' of Loudoun and Montgomerys' of Eglinton.

The Boyds' were known for fueds with the Montgomerys' of Eglinton west of Kilmarnock, and Mures' of Rowallan north of Kilmarnock.

See Clan Boyd for Boyd history and images of their castles.