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The ruins of Eglinton Castle
Grid reference: NS299433
Location: 55°39’21"N, 4°42’11"W
Population: 15,908
Post town: Kilwinning
Postcode: KA13
Dialling code: 01294
Local Government
Council: North Ayrshire
North Ayrshire and Arran

Kilwinning is a historic town situated in Ayrshire. It is known as The Crossroads of Ayrshire.

Kilwinning stands on the banks of the River Garnock, between the costal towns of Stevenston to the west, and Irvine to the south.

In 1966, Kilwinning fell within the area designated Irvine New Town. It expanded rapidly as new estates were built on surrounding farm land to meet the planned increase in population. Many of the town's new inhabitants were a direct result of Glasgow Overflow relocation.

Kilwinning Bridge
Kilwinning viaduct

Today Kilwinning consists of the pedestrianised historic town centre, Bridgend (which originally was a separate village), both now surrounded by the newer estates of Corsehill, The Blacklands, Woodwynd, Pennyburn, Whitehirst Park, and Woodside.

Kilwinning has many buildings and sites of architectural significance. Abbot Adam's Bridge is notable as it was constructed in mediæval times with much of the original structure standing today. The bridge was widened 1859.

Eglinton Castle and County Park

An official invitation to the 1839 Tournament

The ancient seat of the Earls of Eglinton, Eglinton Castle is located just south of Kilwinning. It was built between 1797 and 1802 in Gothic castellated style dominated by a central 100-foot large round keep and four 70-foot outer towers, making it second only to Culzean Castle in appearance and grandeur. The foundation stone of the new Eglinton Castle in Kilwinning was laid in 1797 for the 12th Earl of Eglinton, the ceremony performed by Alexander Hamilton of Grange.

The Castle is chiefly remembered, in modern times, as the scene of the Eglinton Tournament in 1839 which was a magnificent display. Funded and organized by Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton. This revival-mediæval tournament attracted thousands of visitors to see the combatants and the ladies in their finery. Among the guests was Louis Napoleon, the future Emperor Napoleon III.

Today the castle lies in ruins. The Tournament perhaps marked a turning point, being a severe drain on the Eglinton family fortune which coincided with bottomless expenditure on the Ardrossan harbour and the Glasgow, Paisley and Ardrossan Canal. The castle fell into disrepair after being unroofed in 1925 and was used for Commando demolition practice during World War II, the remains were demolished to the level they are today in 1973. Eglinton County Park is now a tourist attraction.


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