Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Portincross  (Portencross)


Atomz - Search website for Portincross         Atomz - Search website for Portencross

 Boyds of Portincross   Friends of Portencross Castle

Google Map of Portencross


Some Views of the Castle taken in 2002


Portencross Castle

This was the fortalice of the barony of Ardneil, which belonged to the Rosses, and was given by Bruce to Sir Robert Boyd of Kilmarnock. Several royal charters are signed from here, possibly used as a crossing-point to Bute.

Founded on a rocky platform jutting into the sea, this picturesque ruin remains a fairly complete shell. It was built in the 14th century, probably by the Boyds of Portencross who retained it until 1737. Two years later it was unroofed in a January gale, having doubtless become derelict since abandoned by the Boyds in the later 17th century.

The castle is of a curious plan, being in the form of an L, but with the wing at one end and not at the side. This arrangement may result in a later addition, but this is not certain. There are two doors on the ground floor, one of them being a later insertion, and one door at first floor level which must originally have been reached by wooden steps or a ladder.

The ground floor is vaulted, as is the great hall on the first floor, which has two very large windows with window seats. An entrance may have been fitted immediately below the vault but even if this was the case, it must have been a most impressive room.

Ay apparent change in the quoin stones used on the upper portion of the exterior suggests alterations, but this is by no means clear.

An iron cannon, about 8ft long, traditionally from 'one of the large ships of the Spanish Armada which sank in about ten fathoms of water at no great distance from the shore' was recovered from the sea in 1740 and lay at Portencross. Hewitt, after examining various accounts, concludes that the gun is either of late 16th or 17th century design, and is almost certainly Spanish. The remains of the ship that carried it lie somewhere between the point and Little Cumbrae. Although not necessarily a member of the Armada, as the Spanish navy was frequently in Scottish waters after 1588, it could be that the wreck was of a ship listed as 'fate unknown' by Philip's officials. The cannon was removed to Hunterston Power Station in 1990 but in 2006 was no longer there. Other discoveries probably from the same wreck are held in the McLean Museum, Greenock.

Little Brigurd, Harbour

Type of Site: Transport And Communications/ Shipping/ Harbour
NMRS Number: NS15SE 18
Map reference: NS 1757 5139

Archaeology Notes
At the extreme tip of Little Brigurd Point, visible only at extreme low water, and never fully uncovered, are the foundations of a built harbour, 150ft wide and at least 180ft long. It is approached by a 10ft wide mole footing, and its walls are of like width, as is a low scarcement which runs round their inside edge. The inner end is hexagonal, and the bottom tightly cobbled, there and along the W. side. Were the walls horizontal in the original state, which seems unlikely, they would have reached an absolute maximum height of 10ft. The Admiralty Chart shows 2 1/2 fathoms over the spot at high water. This harbour is obviously of some antiquity
and may have originally been Roman.
Visible on RAF AP's (58/2517/F22: 0029-30).
F Newall 1976; F Newall and W Lonie 1972
Newall, F (1976 a) 'The Roman signal fortlet at Outerwards, Ayrshire', Glasgow Archaeol J, 4, 1976, 122-3,
Newall, F (1966 c) 'Kilwinning-Hunterston, the Avondale Roman road', Discovery Excav Scot, 1966,
Newall and Lonie, F and W (1972 n) 'Briguard harbour', Discovery Excav Scot, 1972,











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