Isle of Bute, Bute

Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute, Bute

One of the best Castles of the Isles with a long and frequently violent history.  It was one of the few Castles in Britain to have been built and sieged by Vikings!

The Castle is built on a motte (one of the furthest north of its kind) surrounded by a wet moat and dates to the 12th century when it was constructed in wood by the local Vikings.  Shortly afterwards the motte was crowned with an oblong shell keep with circular towers (a very early example of round towers on a Castle in the UK).  The massive keep-cum-gatehouse (pictured left) was added in the 15th century.  As you enter the Castle there is a wonderfully preserved "pit" dungeon which you can climb down a ladder into!

The Vikings attacked the Castle in 1230, actually cutting a hole in the wall with their axes!  It was captured in 1263 by King Haakon of Norway before his eventually defeat at the Battle of Largs (the final defeat of the Vikings in mainland Scotland).  The Stewarts then held the Castle, but it was occupied by the English during the Wars of Independence.

Robert the Bruce took the Castle briefly, but it was retaken by the English in 1334, only to be taken once more by the Scots soon afterwards.

Robert II and Robert III both liked Rothesay and made it their principle residence.  Robert III made his eldest son Duke of Rothesay, a tradition which continues to this day's incumbent of the title Prince Charles.

In 1462 the Earl of Ross laid siege to the Castle, in 1527 it was the turn of the Master of Ruthven and in 1544 the Earl of Lennox captured the Castle for the English.  In the 1650s it was held for King Charles, but eventually Cromwell recaptured the Castle and it was badly slighted thereafter.

In 1685 the Castle was torched by the Earl of Argyll's men and it was left to fall to ruin until partial repair was undertaken in 1816 by the 2nd Marquis of Bute who built the Isle of Bute's main tourist attraction, Mount Stuart.

The Castle is owned by Historic Scotland and open most of the year round.

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