Situated on sandstone cliffs, Ardross Castle was built in the latter half of the fourteenth century replacing an earlier Manor House that had existed there since the twelfth century. Owned by the Dishington family, one of whom was married to the sister of Robert the Bruce, it was occupied for two hundred years.
The first mention of Ardross is in a charter issued in the late twelfth century by King William the Lion to Merleswain, a Fife landowner. It is possible he established the first manor at Ardross at this time. After his death, the estate was inherited by his son, Waldef, and then by his son. Thereafter Ardross passed through marriage to Sir John de Soules. When he died it was granted to John Burnard and in 1368 it passed to Sir William Dishington, Sheriff of Fife. He was married to Elizabeth Bruce, sister to King Robert I (the Bruce), and is the most likely builder of Ardross Castle. He certainly funded the construction of nearby St Monans Church.
Ardross Castle was built on a raised beach overlooking the Firth of Forth. It was a small fortified tower house with a vaulted chamber at ground level and, presumably, a hall and accommodation on the upper floors. At some point after the construction of that tower, a further rectangular structure was added to the south. This may have been a Great Hall or a replacement tower constructed in late sixteenth or early seventeenth century.
In 1607 the Dishington family sold the castle to Sir William Scott, whose family retained it for the next 83 years. Little of note occurred during their tenure but in 1661 the then owner, Sir William Scott II, was a witness at the trial of Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll and gave an account of his attack on Menstrie Castle. The Marquis was subsequently convicted and executed. For Ardross Castle the end came in 1690 when it was sold to Sir William Anstruther. Rather than occupy the elderly fortification, he built a new manor house nearby using stone plundered from Ardross Castle. The ruined structure was abandoned and never rebuilt. Over subsequent years Ardross has become known as Elie.
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Ardross Castle is a ruined Tower House that has been extensively plundered for its stone and reduced to a little under one storey in height. There are also some remains of a second building the purpose of which is unknown. Both Ardross Castle and nearby Newark Castle are found on the Fife Coastal Path between Elie and St Monans (heading east from Ardross).
Ardross Castle. The castle stood on a natural mound overlooking the beach.
Tower House. The foundations are all that remain of the fourteenth century Tower House built by Sir William Dishington, Sheriff of Fife.
Later Structure. To the south of the original tower is another structure which may have been a Great Hall.
Ardross Castle is located on the Fife Coastal Path half way between St Monans and Elie. There are no sign-posts or interpretation boards.
Parking Option (St Monans)
Parking Option (Elie)