Rothesay Castle

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Rothesay Castle is a part ruined castle in the centre of Rothesay town on the Isle of Bute, 8 miles off the west coast of Scotland, with regular car/passenger ferries between Wemyss Bay and Rothesay, about an 8 mile crossing, 35 minutes. Ferry Website.

The castle was built in the early 1200s for Walter Stewart, 3rd High Steward of Scotland, when Scottish Kings were trying to take control of the Western Isles. Many of the Western Isles had been under control of the Norse since the 700s.

The castle has been involved in many battles with the Norse taking control of the castle in the 1260s, and the English took control for some time during the Wars of Independence in the early 1300s.

Rothesay Map . Area Attractions Click on Map . Rothesay & Bute Photo Tour .

Rothesay Castle image

Rothesay Castle was donated to Historic Scotland in 1961 to serve as a museum. The image below left is of the bridge across the moat into the castle.

The image below centre is of the entrance to the tower house and passage into the interior of the castle.

The image below right is of the Great Hall in the tower house, the main room in the castle where visitors would have been entertained.

Castle Bridge image Castle Entrance image Rothesay Castle Great Hall image

The image below is of the Chapel in the interior of Rothesay Castle. There are stairs next to the Chapel that lead to the top of the walls for great views over Rothesay town.

Rothesay Castle Chapel image

The image below left is from the top of Rothesay Castle looking down over the interior.

The Image centre is looking southwest over Rothesay Town and Old Courthouse. When I visited this spot, a seagull had a nest here trying to hatch three golf balls.

The image below right is of the small room in the tower that shows a film of the history of the castle. Castle Website for Opening Times and Prices. Image of the Castle Information Board .

Castle Interior image Rothesay Church image Movie Room image

The other top visitor attraction on the Isle of Bute is Mount Stuart, a huge mansion house situated 4 miles south of Rothesay. Mount Stuart has connections to Rothesay Castle.

Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute History:

750s - the Norse / Vikings start to take control of islands in the north and west of Scotland.

1098, a Norse king named Magnus Barelegs built a wooden fort at Rothesay.

1200s early, William the Lion, King of Scotland, takes control of the Firth of Clyde and Isle of Bute area from the Norse.

1200s early, William the Lion awards the lands of the Isle of Bute to his relations the Stewards.

1200s early, Rothesay Castle is built for the Stewards where the Norse fort had stood. The Stewards are known as the High Stewards of Scotland.

1230, the Norse capture the castle after a three day siege. They failed to hold on to the castle for long.

1263, the Norse under Haakon IV attack Rothesay Castle but fail to take control.

1263 2nd October, the Norse engage the Scots troops of King Alexander III at Largs on the Scottish mainland.

The Battle of Largs is indecisive, but leads to the Norse withdrawing from the Western Isles.

1266, the Treaty of Perth sees the Norse agree to the Western Isles being ruled by Scotland.

1290s, forces of the English King Edward I took control of Rothesay Castle during the First Scottish War of Independence.

1306, the Scots re-take the castle after a naval attack led by Sir Robert Boyd of Cunningham, fighting for Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.

1333, the English re-take Rothesay Castle for a short time after the Battle of Halidon Hill, during the Second Scottish War of Independence.

1371, the death of King David II (Bruce) led to the crown passing to Robert Stewart, High Steward of Scotland.

Robert Stewart was the grandson of Robert the Bruce, first of the Stewart kings, with Rothesay Castle then becoming a royal residence.

1540s, the gatehouse / tower house, was built for more luxurious accommodation and a great hall for entertaining.

1650 - 1659, during the English Civil War, the castle was occupied by forces of Oliver Cromwell.

1685, Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, caused serious damage to the castle when he led a revolt against King James VII (II of England). The castle fell into a ruin from that time.

1707, the union between Scotland and England leads to Scotland becoming a safer place. Scottish landowners soon begin building grand mansions to live in rather than their castles.

1800s early, the gatehouse of Rothesay Castle was used as a powder store during the Napoleonic Wars.

1870s, Mount Stuart House is built on the Isle of Bute for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute.

1872 - 1879, Rothesay Castle is partially restored for the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

1951, the castle was gifted to Historic Scotland to serve as a museum. The Green Lady ghost is soon seen by some visitors.

2015, Sally the Seagull nicks three golf balls from Rothesay Golf Club and takes them to her nest on top of the castle, two Top Flite and one Ultra. Sally Photo.

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