Kelburn Castle – Largs, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Kelburn Castle

Largs, Scotland

This stately estate house features a tower covered in a bright, modern mural. 


Kelburn Castle in Scotland is a stately home whose original structure likely dates from before the 13th century. It’s thought to be one of the oldest castles in the country to have been continuously occupied by the same family, the other being Dunvegan Castle. Norman Keep, which was built primarily for defense rather than comfort, is now enclosed within a larger home that was completed around 1581.

But its history isn’t what makes this castle stand out. In June 2007, after learning the entire concrete facing would need to be replaced, the building’s open-minded owners invited Brazilian graffiti artists to paint a large section of the castle’s outer walls.

Painted by artists Nina, Nunca, and the duo Os Gemeos (“The Twins”—which the two artists, in fact, are), the contrast between the 16th-century building in the woods of Scotland and the 21st-century urban Brazilian graffiti creates an eccentric and delightful visual landscape.

In addition to the castle itself, Kelburn Estate has a number of interesting natural features including waterfalls. Since David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow, was the Governor of New Zealand between 1892-97, a small museum was built on the estate to house a collection of artifacts related to both the Pacific island nation and the local culture. It includes farming equipment native to Ayrshire alongside Māori spears, taxidermied Polynesian birds, and kauri gum. In 2009 the castle suffered from a fire but sustained only minor damage.

Know Before You Go

The estate runs seasonal tours of the castle. You can find information about dates and costs on the castle website.

If visiting the estate, you are normally only charged for parking, 5 GBP per car. The graffitied walls of the castle, as well as the estate's features, are all available to view until closing time.

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