Some Views of the Castle taken in 2002
This was the fortalice of the barony of Ardneil, which belonged to the Rosses, and was given by Bruce to Sir Robert Boyd of Kilmarnock. Several royal charters are signed from here, possibly used as a crossing-point to Bute.
Founded on a rocky platform jutting into the sea, this picturesque ruin remains a fairly complete shell. It was built in the 14th century, probably by the Boyds of Portencross who retained it until 1737. Two years later it was unroofed in a January gale, having doubtless become derelict since abandoned by the Boyds in the later 17th century.
The castle is of a curious plan, being in the form of an L, but with the wing at one end and not at the side. This arrangement may result in a later addition, but this is not certain. There are two doors on the ground floor, one of them being a later insertion, and one door at first floor level which must originally have been reached by wooden steps or a ladder.
The ground floor is vaulted, as is the great hall on the first floor, which has two very large windows with window seats. An entrance may have been fitted immediately below the vault but even if this was the case, it must have been a most impressive room.
Ay apparent change in the quoin stones used on the upper portion of the exterior suggests alterations, but this is by no means clear.
An iron cannon, about 8ft long, traditionally from 'one of the large ships of the Spanish Armada which sank in about ten fathoms of water at no great distance from the shore' was recovered from the sea in 1740 and lay at Portencross. Hewitt, after examining various accounts, concludes that the gun is either of late 16th or 17th century design, and is almost certainly Spanish. The remains of the ship that carried it lie somewhere between the point and Little Cumbrae. Although not necessarily a member of the Armada, as the Spanish navy was frequently in Scottish waters after 1588, it could be that the wreck was of a ship listed as 'fate unknown' by Philip's officials. The cannon was removed to Hunterston Power Station in 1990 but in 2006 was no longer there. Other discoveries probably from the same wreck are held in the McLean Museum, Greenock.
Little Brigurd, Harbour
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