Ravenscraig Castle: drawbridge repairs revealed before doors can re-open

High level safety inspections which led to the closure of Ravenscraig Castle have been completed – but work needs to be done to repair the wooden drawbridge before it can finally re-open.
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The 15th century landmark has been out of bounds to the public all year - and longer - after masonry inspections were carried out as part of a review of historic castles across Scotland. The castle has also endured issues with youths gaining access and reports of anti-social behaviour and vandalism, which were highlighted in the Scottish Parliament last week, with list MSP Roz McCall calling for urgent action.

The Mid-Scotland and Fife Tory politician said her office had been contacted by locals concerned youths throwing stonework off the walls, posing safety concerns to the children involved and members of the public.

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People deserve to feel safe in the area they live in. Local hardworking people who pay their taxes and contribute to their society deserve to live in safety,” she said.

Ravenscraig Castle in Kirkcaldy remains closed to the public (Pic: Fife Free Press)Ravenscraig Castle in Kirkcaldy remains closed to the public (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Ravenscraig Castle in Kirkcaldy remains closed to the public (Pic: Fife Free Press)

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the site, has recently upgraded security fencing at the site to a scaffold with hoarding whilst permanent security options are being considered. It is also working with Fife Council and Police Scotland to raise awareness of the impacts of heritage crime.

A spokesperson said: “:Heritage crime is a serious matter, damaging our monuments and cultural assets and can cause irreparable damage to historic sites, causing us to lose pieces of our past forever. It also diverts important resources away from essential conservation and maintenance work across our estate. The historic environment belongs to all of us.”

HES also confirmed detailed high level masonry inspections had been completed as part of a study into the impact of climate change in association with other factors, and any necessary risk mitigation works carried out.

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But the work also identified unrelated conservation work to repair or replace the timber drawbridge that provides access to the ruin. HES said it hoped to provide an alternative accessway in 2024.

HES closed all its historic sites during lockdown, and brought them back in a phased return as checks were completed. The summer saw visitors able to return to many landmarks, including Aberdour Castle, but Ravenscraig remained behind security fencing with no no definitive timetable for its re-opening. It was originally planned in the first batch of inspections, but pushed back to allow part of the site to be inspected by rope access and for the protection of nesting birds at the castle. The main access path leading from behind The Kyles housing estate was, for a time, blocked off to allow work to take place.

It has continued to be a magnet for youths scaling its walls and, in some cases, causing further damage. Barriers blocking access to the main bridge have been pushed aside, and youths have been seen on the remains of its roof.

In 2021, Ravenscraig Castle suffered more vandalism as it became a meeting point for people at night. People climbed to the top of the East Tower – some 45ft from the ground – to throw stonework taken from the castle walls, a window grill on the first floor was forced open with stonework damaged as a result, and wall-head stones thrown from the East Tower.