'Antiquities of Scotland' Index

Turnbury Castle

 

Turnbury Castle. The next upon the coast are to be seen the old ruins of the ancient castle of Turnbury, upon the North West point of that rocky angle that turns about towards Girvan, and is perhaps the place called by Ptolomee, Perigonium, of a Greek origination, importing round the corner, and suiting the English designation of Turnbury ; and that it cannot be Bargeny, as some imagine, the very situation of that castle and recentness of it will abundantly show; and to confirm this our conjecture, the Perigonium is Turnbury, from turning of the corner, a tradition among the people there, will not a little induce, viz. that near to this very castle, there was of old a town of the fame name, of which there is no vestige at present to be seen, but that they perceive some remainders of a. causeway, and that the reason for this may be, the neighbourhood of the port of the greatest resort in all that coast, at which the first possessors have landed from Ireland, and so might have fixed their habitations near to it, though now the place be but a tract of barren sand. -Thus far Mr. Abbercrornbie.

 

This castle belonged to Alexander, ‘Earl of Carrick, who-died in the Holy Land, and left an only daughter and heiress named Martha, she, about the year 1274, taking the diversion of hunting, with her women and attendants, met by accident Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale in Scotland, and Cleveland in England, a very handsome young man, who after the usual salutes and kisses, which Fordun says were customary in courts, would have proceeded on his way; but the Countess being enamoured with him, seized his horses reins, and with a kind of violence, apparently against his will, led him to her castle of Turnbury, where after detaining him above a fortnight, she married him privately, unknown to the king, or to any of the friends of either party, whence it was currently reported that she had obtained her husband by a rape. On this the king, to punish her for her feudal delinquency, in marrying without his consent, seized her castle and estates; but by the interposition of friends, and the payment of a sum of money, Robert Bruce shortly after obtained a full restitution.


THis castle was in the hands of the English in the expedition of King Edward I. A. D. 1306 Bruce having taken shelter in the Isle of Arran, sent a trusty person into Carrick, to learn how his vassals stood affected to his cause, with instructions, that if he found them disposed to assist him, he should make a signal at a time appointed, by lighting a fire on an eminence near the castle of Turnbury, The messenger found the English in the possession of Carrick, the people dispirited, and none ready to take arms; he therefore did not make the signal; but a fire being made about noon on the appointed spot (possibly by accident) both Bruce and the messenger saw it; the former with his associates put to Tea, to join his supposed party; the latter to prevent his coming; they met before Bruce reached the shore, when the messenger acquainted Bruce with the unpromising state of his affairs, and advised him to go back; but he obeying the dictates of despair and valor, resolved to persevere and attacking the English, carelessly cantoned in the neighbourhood of Turnbury, put a number of them to the sword, and pillaged their quarters. Percy from the castle heard the uproar, yet did not sally forth against them, not knowing their strength. Bruce with his followers, not exceeding three hundred in number, remained for some days near Turnbury ; but succours having arrived from the neighbouring garrisons, he was obliged to seek safety in the mountainous parts of Carrick. AT present, as may be seen in the drawing, little more than the foundations of the building are remaining. There are some vaults beneath it, possibly once sally ports communicating with the water. From this shore is seen the rock of Ailsa, and to the right that of Lamlash, with the craggy mountains of Arran.

THIS view was drawn A. D. 1789.

 

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