The origins of Dean Castle began after Sir
Robert Boyd served as a commander for Robert
the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in
Stirlingshire in 1314.
Bruce rewarded Sir Robert, for his bravery
at Bannockburn, lands Bruce had taken from
his Scottish rivals, the Balliols.
These lands were at Kilmarnock, Girvan,
The lands at Kilmarnock became the main
residence of the Boyds', with them building
their largest castle here under the name
The Tower House was built around 1350 for
Sir Robert Boyds' son, Sir Thomas Boyd.
The main entrance to the Tower is from the
first floor, common in those days, as it was
safer than having a ground floor
These tower houses were common throughout
Scotland at that time, not built to withstand
an attack by a large army, more for attacks
by neighbouring clans.
Fueds between neighbouring clans could run
for years, with many murders between the
clans. Marriage was often used to bring an
end to long running disputes.
The Palace was built next to the Tower
House for Robert Boyd, in the 1460s, after he
had been appointed 1st Lord Boyd, by James II
The Palace is also a fortified building,
as clan buildings in Scotland without
fortifications, were not built until after
the Union with England in 1707, a time when
Scotland became a safer place. Murdering your
neighbour from that time on, could lead to a
court case with a brutal execution.
The Boyds' strong support of Scottish
Kings led to Thomas Boyd marrying King James
II sister, Princess Mary, in 1467.
The marriage of Thomas Boyd to Princess
Mary led to the Boyds' being accused of
wanting to gain the throne of Scotland
Thomas Boyd had to live in Europe at that
time, so as to avoid being excuted for
treason, he is thought to have died in Europe
in the early 1470s.
James Boyd, 2nd Lord Boyd, was killed in
1484, aged 16, by Hugh Montgomery of
Eglinton. Eglinton being the main estate and
castle of the Montgomerys', 10 miles
Robert Boyd, 4th Lord Boyd, slew Patrick
Montgomery in 1523, and Sir Neil Montgomery
The 5th Lord Boyd reached a settlement
with the Montgomerys' in 1561, ending the
feud that had lasted 77 years.
Robert Boyd, 5th Lord Boyd, fought for
Mary Queen of Scots at the battle of Langside
in 1568. Marys' defeat in the battle lead to
her fleeing to England, where she was
welcomed for some time.
Mary was arrested in England in 1586 after
being accused of trying to claim her right to
the English throne. She was beheaded in
February 1587 for treason.
In 1735, a fire in the kitchen of the
Palace at Dean reached the thatched roof,
from where it spread to the roof of the tower
The Tower House and Palace lay in ruin for
almost two centuries, with only some of the
smaller buildings still used. The Boyds' had
financial problems at that time, so could not
afford to repair the castle.
The 4th Earl, William Boyd, fought for
Prince Charles Edward Stuart (the Young
Pretender) in an attempt to overthrow George
II, Hanover, and return the Stuarts' to the
The fourth Earl was captured at the Battle
of Culloden 16 April 1746, put on trial at
the Tower of London, and beheaded on Tower
Hill 18th August 1746.
The Boyds' sold Dean Castle and lands in
1746, with many owners over the following
The Dower House was built next to the
castle in the mid 1800s for the estate
The lands of Dean Castle passed through
marriage to the de Waldens' in 1899, with
them using the Dower House as a home until
the Tower House and Palace were restored.
The 8th Lord Howard de Walden had restored
the Tower House by 1908, and the Palace by
The 9th Lord Howard de Walden, gifted the
Castle and Lands to the people of Kilmarnock
in 1975, to be used a Country Park.
Alastair Boyd, 7th Lord Kilmarnock from
1975, died in 2009 aged 81. His eldest son is
Simon John Boyd, born in 1978, has a son,
Lucian Michael Boyd born in 2007.
The 7th Lord Kilmarnocks' brother, Dr
Robin Boyd, is said to have been next in line
to gain the title 8th Lord Kilmarnock, but
seems not yet to have taken that honour.
Lord Kilmarnocks', over the centuries,
were related through marriage to other
Ayrshire Clans such as the Campbells' of
Loudoun and Montgomerys' of Eglinton.
The Boyds' were known for fueds with the
Montgomerys' of Eglinton west of Kilmarnock,
and Mures' of Rowallan north of
See Clan Boyd for Boyd history and
images of their castles.