Scotland’s only circular castle, Rothesay Castle, has reopened to visitors after essential conservation work.

The castle, which is managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), had temporary access restrictions in place as part of its high-level masonry programme, which looks at the effect of climate change on historic sites in combination with other factors. 

Visitors can now once again enjoy the castle’s history, which dates from the 11th century, when the Hebrides, including Bute, were given to Norway by Edgar of Scotland. However, the king’s descendants were determined to recover the islands, and by 1200 they had succeeded. Rothesay Castle, with its formidable defences and unique design, was built soon after to protect Rothesay against further sieges by the Norwegians. 

Further works took place in the grounds in the later 1400s, with the addition of an impressive gatehouse and St Michael’s Chapel in the courtyard. Having then fallen into ruins, the castle was restored in the 1800s. 

Rothesay Castle is also famous for its ties to the Stewarts, as it was a royal castle from 1371. To this day, the heir to the throne still has the title Duke of Rothesay. 

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The castle is the latest site to re-open following inspections and necessary repairs to the masonry, as part of HES’ high-level masonry project and also repairs to the bridge that provides access. 

Craig Mearns, Director of Operations at HES, said: "Rothesay Castle is a wonderful site and I am delighted that we are now in a position to re-open. I know how much this means to the local community and economy."

In celebration of the re-opening, Rothesay Castle will also play host to a community-led “Return to the Ramparts” event on Sunday, March 17.

The event will be run in partnership with Bute BID, Achievement Bute, Bute Museum and VisitScotland (Bute), with participation from Friends of Rothesay Castle. 

The event will be open to all and will feature fun and creative family activities, such as crown making and soap carving. It will run within normal opening hours of 10am to 4pm, with last entry at 3.30pm, and will be free for all visitors.