Scheduled Monument

Ardross CastleSM841

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle
Local Authority
NO 50841 690
350841, 700690


The monument is Ardross Castle. It comprises the remains of a rectangular tower of likely 15th-century date and a larger rectangular building, possibly of 16th-century date, which lies immediately to the SW. The castle is located about 1.5km E of Elie and occupies a commanding position on a raised beach, at about 14m OD, overlooking the Firth of Forth. The monument was first scheduled in 1937, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

The tower is the earlier of the two structures. It is rectangular in plan, measuring 11.2m NE- SW by 8.8m transversely, with an overall wall thickness of around 2m. Only the lower part of the ground floor survives. Within the chamber, the remains of the vaulting are still visible to about 1m above the springing. The doorway is in the SW gable and has a wide splay on the jambs and a bar-hole. To the left (W) of the door, a mural staircase rises in a straight line, but then becomes a turnpike. Both the door and mural staircase may be later additions: originally, the tower's ground-floor level may not have been accessible from the outside. Narrow windows are situated in the SE wall and the NE gable, and there are aumbries within each gable. In the NW wall, the remains of an internal stair presumably led to the main hall on the first floor. A small structure was built against the external face of the NE gable, measuring about 8m NE-SW by 7m transversely; only its footings are visible today. The tower has been previously excavated (according to a RCAHMS inventory entry dated 1927), although no records survive. The remains of a larger rectangular building, measuring about 23.8m NE-SW by 5.8m transversely within walls 1.8m thick, lie some 6.5m SW of the tower and on a similar alignment. This building may have been attached to the tower by a small section of walling. Six large arched openings pierce the SE wall, but it is not clear whether they were originally doors or windows. This building was not vaulted. At the SE angle, there may have been a circular stair tower.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence for the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the modern fence and gate, signage and bench, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a late medieval castle and adjacent building that can make a significant addition to our understanding of fortified high-status dwellings in medieval Scotland. It represents an important component of both the medieval and contemporary landscape. It retains some interesting surviving features, including the barrel vaulting within the tower, the wide-splayed door with bar-hole, and the mural stair. The relationship between the tower and the rectangular building is of particular interest as the site may preserve evidence for a change in architectural preferences in the late medieval period. The monument also has good potential for the survival of buried archaeological remains that can provide information about the date, character and duration of occupation of the tower and adjacent building, including evidence for the daily life, trading contacts and economy of the inhabitants. The castle is associated with the Dishington family which had ties with the Scottish royal family. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to understand the form and function of medieval towers in Fife and further afield, and their role in the expression of status.



RCAHMS records the castle as NO50SW 15.


Coventry, M 2001, The castles of Scotland, Musselburgh: Goblinshead, 56.

Leighton, J M 1840, History of the county of Fife from the earliest period to the present time, Glasgow: J Swan, 87.

RCAHMS, 1933, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eleventh report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan Edinburgh: HMSO, 134, no 233.

Wood, W 1887, The East Neuk of Fife: its history and antiquities, Edinburgh: David Douglas, 213-14.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 20/04/2019 20:11