Illustration of the castle from a 1907 book
Built / Designed For: Alan fitz Walter
House & Family History: Rothesay Castle was once a favorite residence of the Stuart kings of Scotland. Robert II granted the hereditary keepership of the Castle to his son, John, ancestor of the earls and marquesses of Bute, into whose ownership it later came. In 1401, Robert III, who died here 1406, made his eldest son, David, Duke of Rothesay, beginning the tradition that the heir to the Scottish throne was bestowed with the title. Rothesay Castle was garrisoned for the forces of Oliver Cromwell in the early 1650s as part of the English Civil War. On their departure in 1660, Cromwell's troops partially dismantled the Castle; the remains were then burned by the supporters of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, during his rising of 1685 as part of Monmouth's Rebellion. The Castle never recovered from these slights and entered a long period a ruinous decline. In 1816, following a long period of neglect, the 2nd Marquess of Bute employed 70 men to excavate the ruins. His son, John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute and the richest man in the world by the mid-19th century, had a strong interest in Rothesay (one of his many titles was Hereditary Keeper of Rothesay Castle). The 3rd Marquess, one of the foremost architectural patrons of the 19th century, took to restoring Rothesay with great gusto. Following the advice of his favorite architect, William Burgess, Lord Bute worked on the restoration of the Castle until his death in 1900 (many of his restorations were actually alterations that changed the character of the building, something that would be frowned upon by historic preservation professionals today). In 1961 Rothesay Castle was given by the Crichton-Stuart family to the Scottish government, in whose care it remains today, under the guardianship of Historic Scotland.
Comments: House was once the favoured residence of the Stuart Kings.
House Listed: Scheduled Ancient Monument
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: Alan fitz Walter, 2nd High Steward of Scotland, 13th century. King Robert II, 14th century. King Robert III, 1390-1406. King James IV, 1488-1513.
Current Ownership Type: Historic Environment Scotland
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction
House Open to Public: Yes
Historic Houses Member: No