March 1460 - December 1463; later 15th century and 16th century. David Boys, master of works; Henry Merlioun, master mason; Friar Andres Lesouris, master carpenter. Remains of artillery fort on neck of narrow coastal promontary with rock-cut ditch to front, and on steeply falling ground to E. Ashlar to principal N range and towers; squared and coursed rubble; ashlar margins. Corbelled cornice to centre N; crowstepped attics to towers. Elliptical- and round-arched openings, keyhole gunloops; voussoirs, corbels and chamfered reveals to principal entrance, and to jambs and lintels of some tower windows.
N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: timber walkway to 53' wide, 2-storey curtain with narrow vaulted entrance passage and studded timber door at centre of raised ground floor, flanked by 2 (formerly residential) D-plan towers, rounded ends projecting.
W TOWER: 4-storey and attic, 38' diameter, with sloping wallhead and remains of crowstepped gables/cap house. S elevation with door to left at ground, 2 openings at 1st floor and further openings to right at each floor above.
E TOWER: 3-storey and attic, 43' diameter with dominant stack.
S (RIVER FORTH) ELEVATION: round-arched opening to centre with 2 doors to right and further door to left; elliptical-arched openings to set back upper stage. Fragments of subsidiary (domestic) buildings projecting along promontory to rear.
INTERIOR: W Tower with rectangular-plan principal rooms; tunnel-vaulted ground floor store; SE forestair to 1st floor hall with moulded fireplace and stone window seats to S and W, garderobe to NE. Vaulted gun chamber in thickness of N wall. Fireplaces to upper rooms, and wall-chamber with gunloop to NE at 2nd floor. E Tower with well in vaulted ground floor; 1st floor hall with stone window seats to E; 2nd floor room with wall-chamber and gunloop to NW. Later attic with 2 fireplaces.
Statement of Special Interest
Scheduled Ancient Monument. James II began building Ravenscraig in 1460 for his queen, Mary of Guelders. When he died 3 years later work ceased, and the Castle passed (unfinished) in 1470 to William Sinclair Early of Orkney. Both James II and the Sinclairs were interested in artillery fortifications and this is reflected in the basic form of Ravenscraig and the great wall thickness in proportion to size of the castle "with a particularly massive thickening in the rounded fronts of the 2 towers" (Fawcett, p288). Further defensive qualities appear in the carefully planned provision of key-hole shot-holes to cover approaches to the entrance and postern gate at one of the flanks. Fawcett adds that the wallhead of the W tower was eventually capped by solid weathered-back masonry rather than a wall-walk, and the E tower (smaller than intended) with "make-shift crenellations at wall-head". It is, he concludes "Probably safe to assume that little more than the underlying design and the lower parts of the main components represent James II's perception of the way castle-builders should provide for - and meet the threat of - artillery. The W Tower, planned rather like a tower-house, was probably intended as the residence of the queen or her constable".
Scheduled Area 28 April 1999.