Dean Castle and Country Park

History & Heritage
Tours, Arts & Culture, Ancient, Buildings
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Dean Castle is situated within the Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock.
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About Dean Castle and Country Park
It was the historical stronghold of the Boyd Family, who were lords of Kilmarnock for more than four centuries. In the 18th century, William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock, was a Scottish peer who joined the 1745 Jacobite Rising; he was captured at Culloden and subsequently executed for treason on Tower Hill. Legend holds that the 4th Earl's head was transported back to Dean Castle after his beheading in London in 1746 and was stored in a large chest which is still present in the Laigh Tower. As such many ghost hunters have scrupulously combed and studied the castle and have concluded there is a paranormal presence.

The Castle possesses strong historical connections with many people and events famous in Scottish history. Robert the Bruce who bequeathed the Boyds these lands; James III of Scotland whose sister married a Boyd; the Covenanters, some of whom were imprisoned here; Bonnie Prince Charlie, whose Jacobite rebellion was joined by the aforementioned William Boyd; and Robert Burns who was encouraged to publish his poetry by the Earl of Glencairn who owned the Castle at that time.

In 1975 the 9th Lord Howard de Walden gifted the castle, estate, his father's collections of arms and armour, and his grandfather's collection of musical instruments to the people of Kilmarnock. All of these artefacts are now on display throughout the castle. The banqueting hall displays many items owned by East Ayrshire council including Kilmarnock Edition of Robert Burns poetry and numerous works of art.

A large bust of William Wallace is on display on the ground floor of the castle, while a plaque dedicated to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks bears the words of Robert Burns in his poem, ‘Man Was Made To Mourn’.

Dean Castle and Country Park is maintained by East Ayrshire Council and is free to access. There are daily tours of the castle which are also free.
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