Dunure Castle and the Roasted Abbot
Once a Kennedy stronghold, this castle is now a crumbling ruin eroding steadily into the sea with every passing Ayrshire winter. In 1570 it was the scene for the legendary roasting of the abbot of Crossraguel.
In 1570 the castle was in the hand’s of Gilbert, the 4th Earl of Cassillis, who had the reputation as a greedy man with a fiery temper. Gilbert’s Uncle had been the last abbot of Crossraguel, and after his death in 1564 the abbey lands passed on to him. This was all to change in 1565, when the King appointed one Alan Stewart as the lay commendator to the abbey. This allowed him to gain control over the lands, buildings, and the duties paid to it. Obviously the Earl was not amused at this usurping, and 5 years later after a great deal of political fencing , the Earl had Stewart kidnapped and thrown into the Black Vault of Dunure. Here the poor man was roasted on a spit over a well stoked fire, until he agreed to sign away the lands to the Earl. Stewart was eventually freed and outlived the Earl, who was killed after his horse fell on him.
Whether there is any truth in the story is unclear, but the tale lived on in legend. It is said that on dark nights, when the wind blows gently through the ruin, the hideous shrieks of the abbot can be heard, as he is he is roasted alive deep within the Black Vault.
Directions: The castle is reached from a minor road off the A719 at Dunure. There is a car park near to the ruin.