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Grid Ref: NT 108 821
Rosyth Castle from the North East
Rosyth Castle from the North East

Rosyth Castle is an unexpected find. Located right next to one of the gateways into Rosyth Docks and surrounded by land used and reused for dock related developments over the years since the docks came into being from 1906, it is amazing to see such a complete example of a tower house and courtyard simply watching the world change around itself.

Seen From the South East
Seen From the South East
Tower House Door
Tower House Door
The North West Corner
The North West Corner

Because of the nature of the roads and because of the nearby dock entrance, parking your car where it is both safe and unlikely to spark a security scare takes a little lateral thinking, and a walk.

The castle today comprises an externally fairly intact L-plan tower house, most of which dates from the 1470s, plus a surrounding courtyard with ranges on all four sides, in varying states of disrepair. The courtyard and ranges date back to improvements made to the castle in 1561. They replaced a simple barmkin or curtain wall which, to judge from the traces left on the corners of the tower house, could have been anything up to 40 feet tall: unusually high for the purpose.

North Range
North Range
South Range
South Range
West Range
West Range

The castle was built by Sir James Stewart of Rosyth. When built, it stood on an island connected by a causeway to the north shore of the River Forth only at low tide. It is amazing to look at the castle today and realise that all the land beyond it and to either side has been reclaimed from the sea within the last century or so.

The interior of the tower house is not normally accessible. It comprises a barrel vaulted ground floor, with the hall on the first floor. Above this would originally have been a second floor comprising one or more private chambers, topped off by an attic.

Making sense of the ranges around the courtyard involves much more guesswork. But they would certainly have provided additional accommodation for servants and retainers, plus ancillary functions like bakehouse, a brewery, and possibly stables and a chapel.

The area immediately surrounding the castle is well kept, and this adds to the sense of dislocation from the dockyard that now largely envelops it. Yet when you realise that it has always been surrounded by an alien environment - the sea - Rosyth Castle's current circumstances come to seem a little less bizarre.

Rosyth Castle in 1906. View from a postcard sent in about 1915.
Rosyth Castle in 1906. View from a postcard sent in about 1915.
(With thanks to Bob McEwan)
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