Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
South Ayrshire
Planning Authority
South Ayrshire
NS 23421 10192
223421, 610192


Robert Adam, circa 1785 and 1800, incorporating earlier structures. 6-arch, serpentine-plan, castellated viaduct, with archway as a mock ruin at the S end. Squared rubble construction with ashlar voussoirs and vaults. Gravelled carriageway. Late 20th century metal railings installed in apertures and lowered parapet of viaduct.

RUINED ARCH: S ELEVATION: round-headed arch with irregular broken parapet. Roofless square tower to right (E) with round-headed doorway and gunloop at lower level. 2 narrow window apertures above. Screen wall with round-headed apertures extending to E. Roofless round tower to left (W) with gun loop at lower level and round-headed window aperture midway up. Round tower with roundheaded doorway on E side. Square tower with square window aperture on E and low rectangular doorway on N. INTERIOR (seen 2010): square tower with salvaged ancient fire surround of roll moulded ashlar and salvaged carved stones in window aperture.

VIADUCT: W ELEVATION: 5 visible arches. Rectangular doorway on left (N) side. Parapet, with saddleback coping above machicolated cornice. 4 dummy square towers forming buttresses against spandrels and accommodating refuges in parapet wall. E ELEVATION: 6 visible arches. Rectangular doorway and round-headed window aperture, both with yetts, on right (N). Parapet, with saddleback coping, above machicolated cornice. 4 dummy square towers forming buttresses against spandrels and accommodating refuges from carriageway in parapet wall. Raised parapet to left (S), with 3 round-headed apertures. INTERIOR (seen 2010): concealed arch at N end, floored with flagstones. Rectangular aperture to S side providing access to icehouse, secured by iron yett within entrance passage leading to concave ice chamber.

Statement of Special Interest

Part of an A-group at Culzean Castle Estate comprising: Culzean Castle; Castle Walls etc; Fountain Court etc; Ruined Arch and Viaduct; Stable Block etc; Camellia House; Cat Gates; Home Farm; Powder House; Ardlochan Lodge; Dolphin House; Hoolity Ha'; Swan Pond Complex; Swan Pond Ice House; Walled Garden; Bathing Complex; Water Works; Shore Boat House; Battery and Mast House; Main Drive Walls and Piers; Gas Works.

A significant monument of the Picturesque movement, the ruined arch and the embattled viaduct provide an impressive approach to the Castle precinct from the south, marking the culmination of a procession through an ornamental landscape of international importance. While the ensemble is clearly a work of romantic whimsy, it also alludes to more barbaric times and the martial prowess of the Kennedy family. Initiated by the 10th Earl of Cassillis, who commissioned Robert Adam to rebuild the Castle, in 1776, this was one of several schemes to scenically enhance the surroundings of the Castle, including the fortification of the Stable Block and the garden terrace walls, although some of these were only completed a number of years later by the 12th Earl. The landscape designer, Thomas White, and his son, were consulted at various times from 1790 onwards. The Viaduct, or Causeway, already existed when Adam began work on Culzean and it may date from the 1760s, or earlier. The mock fortifications with which it was embellished appear to have been in place by the mid-1780s, while the arch was probably not completed until the period 1800-1815 as it is not present in a view of 1791, by S Hooper (in the University of Glasgow Library), showing a different entrance arch, not in ruins, together with a lodge, from which Adam's arch may have been constructed. Drawings by Adam in the Sir John Soane Museum show show a more elaborate treatment of the viaduct.

The viaduct was restored in 1986 and 1994.

Together with the outstanding ornamental landscape of its estate, Culzean Castle is acknowledged as the epitome of the Picturesque movement in Scotland, in its own right and is a work of international importance. Culzean, at one time the largest estate in Ayrshire, has been associated with the Kennedy family since the Middle Ages. It was gifted by Gilbert the 4th Earl of Cassillis to his brother Thomas Kennedy, in 1569. In the 1660s, the barmekin around the tower house was breached to create the terraced gardens, orchards, and walled garden for which Culzean was notable, while the caves beneath the castle (a Scheduled Monument) were fortified to serve as secure stores. Culzean Castle became the principal family seat when Sir Thomas Kennedy (1726-75) became the 9th Earl of Cassillis, in 1759. A continuing programme of improvements was undertaken by Sir Thomas and his successors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The 10th Earl began rebuilding the Castle to designs by Robert Adam. This work was continued by Archibald (1770-1846), the 12th Earl, later the 1st Marquess of Ailsa. From about 1810 onwards he commissioned numerous structures, both practical and ornamental, and several important architects and landscape designers were engaged to embellish the gardens and grounds with ponds, gates, lodges and pavilions, resulting in several key works of the Picturesque era. The 3rd Marquess undertook the modernisation and enlargement of the Castle in the 1870s. In 1945, the 5th Marquess of Ailsa divided the property, making over the Castle, and the policies immediately surrounding it, to the National Trust for Scotland.

Robert Adam (1728-1792) was one of the most prominent architects of his generation and, for a time the most fashionable architect in Britain. He helped to usher in the neoclassical taste that superseded Palladianism and created a refined style of interior design that came to bear his name. His castellated mansions set in Romantic landscapes, such as Culzean and Seton, helped define the picturesque movement and strongly influenced the design of Scottish country houses in the first half of the 19th century. With his family firm he undertook most types of architectural work, although large public commissions, such as Register House and Edinburgh University, only came towards the end of his career.

The ruined arch and viaduct were previously included in the listing of Culzean Castle. Listing revised as part of the Culzean Castle Estate Review 2010-11.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey (1854-9). J & A Rykwert, The Brothers Adam. The Men and the Style (1985), p183, pl188. David King, The Complete Works of Robert and James Adam (2001), pp328, 329, 331, 333. Michael S Moss, The Magnificent Castle of Culzean & the Kennedy Family (2002). Sir John Soane Museum Collection of Adams drawings, copies in the RCAHMS. Marquess of Ailsa Culzean Castle Drawings, copies in the RCAHMS. National Trust for Scotland Archive. Additional information from Michael Moss, University of Glasgow and Kinlay Laidlaw, National Trust for Scotland Area Surveyor (2010).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 16/02/2019 07:19