Ravenscraig Castle overlooks the sea at the west end of Ravenscraig Park, which is in turn found on the eastern edge of Kirkcaldy. Use the car park in Ravenscraig Park and walk from there past the new housing development to catch your first glimpse of the castle through the trees.
The castle was built by James II in the 1450s. James had a passion for artillery, which proved his downfall in 1460: see our Historical Timeline. At Ravenscraig he wanted a castle that could withstand the latest guns then available.
The result is a structure whose landward face is made up mostly of two massive, and massively thick, D-shaped towers linked by a range containing the main door. This is set in the wall high above the deep moat cut directly into the rock of the headland and from where you can really appreciate just how magnificent and brutally powerful Ravenscraig Castle must have been in its heyday.
The rest of the castle ran back along the narrowing headland which falls away steeply on both sides to the shoreline. These days a fair part of the two main towers and range connecting them remains, but access to the interior and higher levels is very restricted. Much less of the rest of the castle on its headland can be seen today.
To Ravenscraig Castle's east side is a curving bay with a shingled beach. This seems to have been regarded as part of the defended area of the castle, for a defensive wall projects from the east (far) end of the bay out to a point below the high water mark.
Above the beach is the beehive shape of a dovecot, still used today by pigeons as a nesting site, and probably ideal for the purpose as its ground level entrance has been sealed up leaving just the access hole in the top. The dovecot can be reached from the bay or from Ravenscraig Park, and it provides a fascinating insight into castle life in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Presumably, given its coastal location, the castle residents dined on fish as well as birds.
A visit to Ravenscraig Castle is a fascinating experience, though in some ways it is a slightly unsettling one as well. It is all too easy to think of castles as remote and romantic ruins. Located on its dominating headland and towering over its own private beach, Ravenscraig Castle has many of the attributes you'd expect. But while it is fascinating, and from some angles it might qualify as romantic: no-one would today call it remote, despite the impression given by images on this page.
Kirkcaldy predates Ravenscraig Castle by at least four hundred years. But since the castle was built the town has reached out to envelop it. Ravenscraig Park itself remains an oasis, but the castle looks westward over industrial development towards the centre of Kirkcaldy, and the remains of its tower are echoed by the nearby residential tower blocks built in the 1960s. More recently still, a development of low rise flats has taken place along the line of the ridge just inland from the castle, and it now has some very close neighbours.
Given its location and surroundings, Ravenscraig is not one of the more crowded castles you will find in Scotland. As a result it is not staffed, which in turn is why many of the interiors that remain are inaccessible. But if you are in southern Fife, it is well worth a look: this is truly a slice of "Undiscovered Scotland".