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Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle stands on the site of a 15th century Kennedy stronghold. The castle was completely redesigned by Robert Adam between 1777 and 1792, under the 10th Earl of Cassillis. The castle has a 565-acre country park and gardens, designed by Alexander Nasmyth. President Eisenhower stayed at the castle several times, and was said to have fallen in love with the place.

Culzean Castle: by Daniel ParkinsonCulzean Castle: by Daniel ParkinsonGhosts and Legends
The Kennedy clan, who were the original owners, were a powerful Ayrshire family. A ghostly piper is said to play along Pipers Brae to herald a marriage within clan. The ghost of a woman in a Ballgown was also seen in the 1970's.

A legend attached to the castle tells of a supernatural knight who abducts a young heiress to the castle. He tells her how he plans to kill her, but she manages to lull him to sleep and stabs him with his own dirk. This early legend has a reflection in a later one. May Kennedy from Culzean, was allegedly abducted from the castle by Sir John Cathcart.

He was supposed to be a wife murderer, who lived in and haunts the now ruined Carleton Castle. She discovered his murderous plans, and managed to push him to his death from cliffs near his home.

Just off the A719 coast road between Ayr and Turnberry.

Daniel Parkinson

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Ian Topham
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Re: Culzean Castle

From 'Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales', by George Douglas, [1901]


IN the days of yore, the proprietors of Colzean, in Ayrshire, were known in that county by the title of Lairds o' Co', a name bestowed on Colzean from some co's (or coves) in the rock underneath the castle.

One morning, a very little boy, carrying a small wooden can, addressed the laird near the castle gate, begging for a little ale for his mother, who was sick: the laird directed him to go to the butler and get his can filled; so away he went as ordered. The butler had a barrel of ale on tap, but about half full, out of which he proceeded to fill the boy's can; but, to his extreme surprise, he emptied the cask, and still the little can was not nearly full. The butler was unwilling to broach another barrel; but the little fellow insisted on the fulfilment of the laird's order, and a reference was made to him by the butler, who stated the miraculously large capacity of the tiny can, and received instant orders to fill it if all the ale in the cellar would suffice. Obedient to this command, he broached another cask, but had scarcely drawn a drop, when the can was full, and the dwarf departed with expressions of gratitude.

Some years afterwards, the laird, being at the wars in Flanders, was taken prisoner, and for some reason or other (probably as a spy) condemned to die a felon's death. The night prior to the day appointed for his execution, being confined in a dungeon strongly barricaded, the doors suddenly flew open, and the dwarf reappeared, saying--

"Laird o' Co',
Rise an' go"--

a summons too welcome to require repetition.

On emerging from prison, the boy caused him to mount on his shoulders, and in a short time set him down at his own gate, on the very spot where they had first met, saying--

"Ae guid turn deserves anither--
Tak ye that for bein' sae kind to my auld mither,"

and vanished.



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