Stanecastle was a medieval barony and estate in
North Ayrshire, Scotland, first mentioned in 1363Strawhorn, John (1985). "The History of Irvine." Pub. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-140-1. P. 3.] and now part of the Irvine New Town project. Its nearest neighbours are Bourtreehilland Girdle Toll.
The early history of Stanecastle is obscure but it was once believed that the 'stane' (stone) prefix referred to older Roman structures.Strawhorn, John (1985). "The History of Irvine." Pub. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-140-1. P. 3.] However, it is now known that stone building in
Scotlandand Ayrshirewas not restricted to the Roman and Norman periods, and need not suggest any such Roman origins.
The ancient name of the barony was the 'Barony of Stone'. At the core of the medieval estate may have been an older medieval
nunneryor convent[http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/pls/portal/newcanmore.newcandig_details_gis?inumlink=42076 RCAHMS Canmore site] ] and evidence has been discovered (and long lost under a turnpikeroad) of a small medieval chapel, probably dedicated to St.Bridgetand, as was the norm, had its own graveyard (also long buried underneath the road). In the 17th-century "the twenty shilling lands of old extent called Brydskirk" are recorded, but with no mention of a chapel.Strawhorn, John (1985). "The History of Irvine." Pub. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-140-1. P. 30.] In the middle-ages, Stanecastle gave way to the ever expanding EglintonEmpire and William Francis of Stane passed his estate on to the Earls of Eglintonin the 15th century.
In 1750 Alexander, 10th Earl of Eglinton, repaired the castle. The four open and four closed pointed windows were constructed for appearance only at this time and on the west side a large panel stone with the Eglinton arms was put in place. Through some mistake this panel was placed upside down.MacGibbon, David and Ross, Thomas (1990), "The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland from the 12th to the 18th century." Vol. V. Pub. James Thin. Edinburgh. ISBN 0-901824-186. P. 351 - 352.]
The Toll Road Act of 1774 gives details of "The Road from the Cockpitt near Stone-Castle by Armsheugh, ...."McClure, David (1994). "Tolls and Tacksmen." Ayr Arch & Nat Hist Soc. Ayrshire Monograph No.13. P. 53 Showing that, not unusually, a Cock Pit existed here at one time.
Visible today is the superb keep of the original estate, into whose wall is set an
inscribedstone. This keep was altered with the addition of eight mock-Gothic arched windows in the 18th century, and has a modern roof with chimney and windows.
Opposite the keep is the Stanecastle gate, a considerably younger structure but inkeeping with the overall design of the area. In the 20th century, this gateway, or rather its orientation, was altered. It once marked the southern entrance to the huge
Eglinton Castleestate, now the Eglinton Country Park.
The remaining section of the estate has been fenced off and protected. For many years, the modern gate was padlocked and this has given way to a more open policy.
A record exists for the rare Rusty-Back Fern growing on the walls of the castle in the early 1900's. A search in 2002 did not locate the fern.
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