Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle house and gardens (April 2011)

Culzean Castle (/kʌˈln/ kul-AYN, see yogh 22; Scots: Cullain[1]) is a castle overlooking the Firth of Clyde, near Maybole, Carrick, in South Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland. It is the former home of the Marquess of Ailsa, the chief of Clan Kennedy, but is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The clifftop castle lies within the Culzean Castle Country Park and is opened to the public. From 1972 until 2015, an illustration of the castle was featured on the reverse side of five pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.[2][3]

As of 2021, the castle was available for rent.[4]


Culzean Castle was constructed as an L-plan castle by order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to rebuild a previous, but more basic, structure into a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporates a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments.

The castle was the venue, on 14 November 1817, when the 1st Marquess of Ailsa's daughter, Margaret Radclyffe Livingstone Eyre, married Thomas, Viscount Kynnaird. Margaret would become a noted philanthropist.[5]

In 1945, the Kennedy family gave the castle and its grounds to the National Trust for Scotland (thus avoiding inheritance tax). In doing so, they stipulated that the apartment at the top of the castle be given to General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. The General first visited Culzean Castle in 1946 and stayed there four times, including once while President of the United States.[6]

The Ayrshire (Earl of Carrick's Own) Yeomanry, a British Yeomanry cavalry regiment, was formed by the Earl of Cassillis at Culzean Castle in about 1794. On 24 June 1961, the regiment returned to the castle to be presented with its first guidon by General Sir Horatius Murray, KBE, CB, DSO.

The castle re-opened in April 2011 after a refurbishment funded by a gift in the will of American millionaire William Lindsay to the National Trust for Scotland. Lindsay, who had never visited Scotland, requested that a significant portion of his $4 million go towards Culzean.[7] Lindsay was reportedly interested in Eisenhower's holidays at the castle.[8]

Culzean Castle received 333,965 visitors in 2019.[9]


Clock tower's courtyard and shore
Panoramic view of Culzean Castle main building

The armoury contains a propeller from a plane flown by Leefe Robinson when he shot down a German airship north of London in 1916.

To the north of the castle is a bay containing the Gas House, which provided town gas for the castle up until 1940. This group of buildings consists of the gas manager's house (now containing an exhibition on William Murdoch), the Retort House and the remains of the gasometer.[10]

There are sea caves beneath the castle which are currently not open generally, but are open for tours throughout the summer.[11]

The castle grounds include a walled garden, which is built on the site of the home of a former slave owned by the Kennedy family, Scipio Kennedy.[12]


The castle is reputed to be home to at least seven ghosts, including a piper and a servant girl.[13][14][15]

Film and television appearances

  • Culzean Castle is used as the castle of Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee) in the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man. The scenes here were filmed between October and November 1972.[16][17]
  • Culzean Castle featured in the 1997 PBS documentary series Castles of Scotland.
  • The Most Haunted team led by Yvette Fielding, Karl Beattie and medium Derek Acorah explored Culzean Castle's paranormal stories and reported sightings of ghosts for an episode of the first series, broadcast on Living TV in 2002.[16][17]
  • The BBC TV Coast programme visited in series 2 episode 3 first shown in November 2009.[18]
  • Culzean Castle appeared on the programme The Little Couple from TLC, where the family visited the castle on the Series 9 pilot episode in 2016.
  • It was the location for two episodes of BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow filmed in 2020 and transmitted in February and April 2021.[19][20]


Culzean castle & gardens
  • Culzean Castle, 1890s photograph

    Culzean Castle, 1890s photograph

  • Etching of Culzean Castle by James Fittler from Scotia Depicta, published 1804

    Etching of Culzean Castle by James Fittler from Scotia Depicta, published 1804

  • Culzean Castle from the shore

    Culzean Castle from the shore

  • Clock tower's courtyard

    Clock tower's courtyard

  • Close panoramic view of Culzean Castle main building, towards Clock tower

    Close panoramic view of Culzean Castle main building, towards Clock tower

  • Grand oval staircase by Robert Adam, at Culzean Castle

    Grand oval staircase by Robert Adam, at Culzean Castle

  • Interior by Robert Adam at Culzean Castle

    Interior by Robert Adam at Culzean Castle

  • Interior decoration at Culzean Castle

    Interior decoration at Culzean Castle

  • Entrance hall decoration of Culzean Castle, full of pistols

    Entrance hall decoration of Culzean Castle, full of pistols

  • Kitchen decoration at Culzean Castle

    Kitchen decoration at Culzean Castle

See also


  1. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  2. ^ "RBS - Banknotes - The Ilay Series". RBS Group. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Current Banknotes : Royal Bank of Scotland". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  4. ^ 7 Castle Hotels in Scotland That You Can Stay in
  5. ^ "Eyre, Margaret Radclyffe-Livingstone- [née Lady Margaret Kennedy], styled countess of Newburgh (1800–1889), philanthropist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45582. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Culzean Castle - Where Eisenhower, Ex-president of the United States Once Stayed!". Celtic Castles Ltd. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  7. ^ BBC News - Culzean Castle benefits from US millionaire's legacy
  8. ^ Love of 'Brigadoon' inspires Vegas tycoon to leave fortune to Scotland - News, People - The Independent
  9. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Culzean Castle small gas plant". CIBSE Heritage Group. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Event: Explore Culzean's Caves". Carrick Ayrshire website. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Dig for freed slave's castle home". BBC News Glasgow and West. BBC. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  13. ^ BBC - Halloween happenings in your area
  14. ^ Scotland’s most haunted - Herald Scotland | News | Home News
  15. ^ THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT They are creatures of the dark, lingering in the recesses of Scotland's most historic locations. Their antics would raise the hair on a newly ...
  16. ^ a b "Scottish Castles - Culzean Castle". Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  17. ^ a b Culzean Castle, Ayrshire & Arran|
  18. ^ "BBC TV Coast programme: Arran to Gretna: music used in this programme". Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Culzean Castle 1, Antiques Roadshow, Series 43". 7 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Culzean Castle 2, Antiques Roadshow, Series 43". 4 April 2021. Retrieved 30 March 2021.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Culzean Castle.
  • Culzean Castle - visitor information at the NTS website.
  • Papers of the National Trust of Scotland (Dwight D. Eisenhower's Culzean Castle apartment), Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • Engraving of Cullean castle by James Fittler in the digitised copy of Scotia Depicta, or the antiquities, castles, public buildings, noblemen and gentlemen's seats, cities, towns and picturesque scenery of Scotland, 1804 at National Library of Scotland
  • Video footage of the Culzean Coal Gas Works
  • Video footage of the Culzean caves
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Former burghs
Old Dailly
Carrick, South Ayrshire.png
National subdivisions
Ayrshire and Arran lieutenancy area
Carrick earldom
Kyle and Carrick local government district
Sheriffdom and County of Ayr
South Ayrshire Council area
Parliamentary seats (Scotland)
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley
Parliamentary seats (UK)
Ayrshire (1708–1868)
South Ayrshire (1868–1983)
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (1983–2005)
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (2005–)
Ailsa Craig
Craigdow Loch
Loch Bradan
Loch Doon
Loch Dornal
Loch Finloch
Loch Goosey
Loch Spaig
Loch Spallander
Loch Spouts
River Doon
River Stinchar
Water of App
Water of Girvan
Water of Tig
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Coordinates: 55°21′16″N 4°47′22″W / 55.3544°N 4.7895°W / 55.3544; -4.7895