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Turnberry Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Turnberry Castle, a fragmentary ruin on the coast of Kirkoswald parish, Ayrshire, 6 ¼ miles N of Girvan. When or by whom it was built is quite uncertain, but it seems to have been a stronghold of the old Celtic Lords of Galloway, and afterwards of the Earls of Carrick - a title bestowed in 1186 by William the Lyon on Duncan, the grandson of Fergus of Galloway. Duncan's grand-daughter, Margaret, by her romantic second marriage with Robert de Brus in 1271, conveyed to him both the castle and earldom; and Turnberry disputes with Lochmaben the honour of being the birthplace of Robert Bruce (1274-1329), the greatest of Scotland's kings. On 20 Sept. 1286 it was the meeting-place of the great Scottish barons who supported the title of Bruce the 'Competitor' to the Crown; and in the spring of 1307 it was recaptured from the English by King Robert Bruce. So at least says the tradition which Scott has so finely versified in Canto Fifth of his Lord of the Isles; but, according to Dr Hill Burton, Bruce ` found the castle so well garrisoned by Percy that attack was useless. Fortune favoured his adventure, however, in another shape, for in a night attack on Percy's army, close at hand, he caused havoe and panic, aud, what was of some moment, gained a valuable booty.' The ruin has suffered so severely from the action of sea and weather, and the ruthless hand of man, as to have little more remaining than its lower vaults and cellars; but from indications which are furnished by these, by some vestiges of a drawbridge, and by the extent of rock which seems to have been included in the site, the castle appears to have been a fortress of great size and strength-. It occupies a small low promontory, so as to be washed on three sides by the sea; and, on the land side, it overlooks a rich plain of upwards of 600 acres. Its site commands a full prospect of all the lower Firth of Clyde. A lighthouse, built on part of the castle's site in 1874, rises to a height of 60 feet, and exhibits a light flashing once every 12 seconds, and visible at a distance of 15 nautical miles.—Ord. Sur., sh. 13, 1870.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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