A Perfect Location A walk around Dundonald Castle and its impressive hilltop home is an atmospheric experience. Most days, all you can hear are crows and the wind blowing through trees and old grey stones. It’s eerily easy to imagine the colourful characters in whose footsteps you follow. Buried Treasures Archaeology shows the hill has been settled since the Bronze and Iron Ages. Later fortifications were strengthened against Vikings attempting incursions on the Ayrshire coastline. In 1160, Norman noble Walter FitzAlan moved north, to serve King David I as his steward (stewart in Scots). Walter was granted lands in Renfrew and Ayrshire and built an impressive Norman castle at Dundonald. This large fortress was destroyed during the Wars of Independence with the English, but Robert the Bruce may have been responsible – to stop it falling into enemy hands. Cradle of Kings Walter’s descendant, Robert Stewart – also the grandson of the Bruce – became King in 1371. He began a long line of Stewart (or Stuart) monarchs who ruled Scotland and later England, for the next 300 years. The current castle was Robert’s favourite residence. He established nine of his adult children as nobles to dominate Scotland. They chose to exert their power elsewhere, so in the 1630’s the Castle’s occupants moved to Old Auchans House nearby. The ruins of Old Auchans House, once an impressive large manor to the Cochrane family, can be found after a pleasant woodland stroll – as can the footprint of their enviable estate.