Kinbane Castle - Atlas Obscura

Kinbane Castle

Built in 1547, these ruins lie on a rocky promontory in Ballintoy jutting into the wild ocean waters below. 


Down over 140 steep, twisting, stone stairs lie the ruins of Kinbane Castle. The name comes from the Irish “An Cionn Ban” meaning “white head,” a reference to the craggy limestone rocks the castle sits atop.  Brave visitors who descend the cliff path can view spectacular cliffs, explore the ruins, and view Rathlin Island across the water.

Kinbane Castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell, of the Scottish clan of MacDonnell, lords of the Western Isles of Scotland. The only access point was by climbing down the basalt cliff face, as the castle was nearly impossible to access via the sea. Little written documentation remains to detail the history of the castle, though an information panel near the ruins gives visitors a tour of the remaining elements and sheds light on how the castle may have looked.

The castle changed hands over the centuries with local tradition suggesting it may have been inhabited until the 18th century. According to one of the NIEA plaques, test excavations at the site in 2011 did not find anything dating later than the 16th century.

Know Before You Go

The ruins are located between Ballycastle and Ballintoy. There is a car park and restrooms available at the top of the trail. Use caution on the steps especially when they are wet or in gusty conditions.

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September 18, 2023

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