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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

Craigie Castle's hidden secret

Craigie is a little known ruin which contains one of the finest specimens of a groin-vaulted hall to be found in Scotland.

The castle is situated on a shallow, but conspicuous mound (probably a motte) in open country near Symington in south Ayrshire. The earliest remains are those of a low, late-12th century or early-13th century hall house with a wide crenellated parapet enclosing a saddle-back roof. At a later period, probably in the 15th century, an entirely new hall was raised upon it, effectively enclosing the crenellations and adding at least one more level. This was constructed of ashlar and incorporated a groined vault of three bays.

craigie interior
Craigie's Interior showing two of the groin-vaulted bays

This stood upon the original wall walk with its ribs finishing in exquisitely carved corbels. It was lit by high-level windows set in widely splayed, stepped openings and formed, what once must have been, a magnificent chamber of the highest quality.

From the exterior the walled-up crenellations are clearly discernible along with the weepers which once drained the walk. The conjunction of the two halls is further emphasised by the change from the rubble of the earlier work to the ashlar of the later.

craigie crenellations
Craigie Castle's walled-up crenellations (orange stone) with row of weeper drain holes below

There are substantial remains of ditches and courtyard walling. A gunport indicates that the castle was still in use in the 1500s but by 1600, its owners, the Wallaces of Craigie, had abandoned it for Newton in Ayr.

The quality of the work at Craigie has been noted as a match for anything in Scotland and it is regrettable that it exists in a state of utter ruin with the most recent collapse having occurred within the last 30 years.

Craigie Castle is on the Scottish Castle Association's visit list for 2016.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Date posted: 05 Nov 2015Last updated: 05 Nov 2015

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