Dean Castle

The jewel in Kilmarnock’s crown, Dean Castle proudly sits within Dean Castle Country Park and is one of Ayrshire’s top free visitor attractions
Dean Castle was the home and stronghold of the Boyd Family for over 400 years. Originally known as Kilmarnock Castle, the name change reflects the surroundings that the Castle sits in, as dean is a traditional Scottish word for a wooded valley.

The Dean Castle Keep houses East Ayrshire’s collection arms and armour, the majority of which belonged to the 8th Lord Howard De Walden. He was a keen medievalist and enthusiast of knighthood and chivalry. He built his collection with assistance from notable sculptor and armourer Felix Joubert, and brought them to Kilmarnock for display in the newly restored Castle. The majority of the collection are 15th and 16th century European creations and several key objects that have origins in East Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
The 8th Lord Howard de Walden also collected the 16th century tapestries that now hang in the Keep. Tapestry is one of the oldest forms of woven textile art using wool or fabric and traditionally woven by hand on a loom y skilled artisans. These tapestries were produced in Brussels, one of the major production centres at the time.
Charles van Raalte collected the musical instrument collection displayed in the Palace. His daughter, Margherita, married the 8th Lord Howard de Walden and after her father’s death, she brought many of the most historically important pieces to the Castle.
The collection includes many interesting and unusual instruments - miniature viols, early ivory recorders, flutes, harps and drums.
For certain types of instruments, this is one of the most important collections in the world! In particular, there are examples from the lute family which date from as early as 1570 that are products of the most famous instrument makers of their time. For their quality and significance, East Ayrshire’s historical musical instrument collection is recognised as a nationally significant collection by Museum Galleries Scotland.

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Visitor info

Opening hours

Mon - Fri, 11AM-3PM, Sat & Sun - 11AM - 4PM


Dean Castle Country Park, Dean Road, Kilmarnock KA3 1XB




The Keep has just under 70 steps in total (23 to the first floor) which will make it in inaccessible for some visitors. .Due to the stairs in the Palace, only the first floor will be accessible to some visitors. We have tried to bring the Castle to life for those visitors with an AV and a 360 degree tour which can be viewed in the accessible areas


Cafe, Visitor Centre, Gift Shops, Adventure Playground, Rural LIfe Centre

Getting Here

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From the North and South (Glasgow and Prestwick Airports). From A77, take the B7038 turn off, follow the B7038/Glasgow Road towards the town centre and turn left onto Dean Road. The main car park is on the left. Postcode for Sat Nav - KA3 1XB
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Public Transport
A 15 minute walk from Kilmarnock Train Station and main bus terminal or a 5 minute walk from the X76 Kilmarnock-Glasgow bus route. Alight on Glasgow Road, Kilmarnock, then follow Dean Road to the Country Park
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By Bike
Dean Castle Country Park is on the National Cycle Network. Use Route 73 to get here.
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