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
These lands were at Kilmarnock, Girvan,
The lands at Kilmarnock became the main
residence of the Boyds', with them building
their largest castle here under the name
The Tower House was built around 1350
for Sir Robert Boyds' son, Sir Thomas
The main entrance to the Tower is from
the first floor, common in those days, as
it was safer than having a ground floor
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
The Boyds' strong support of Scottish
Kings led to Thomas Boyd marrying King
James II sister, Princess Mary, in
The marriage of Thomas Boyd to Princess
Mary led to the Boyds' being accused of
wanting to gain the throne of Scotland
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
Robert Boyd, 4th Lord Boyd, slew Patrick
Montgomery in 1523, and Sir Neil Montgomery
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
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
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
The Dower House was built next to the
castle in the mid 1800s for the estate
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
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
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
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
See Clan Boyd for Boyd history and
images of their castles.