This site may have been used as a fortification since AD 685. The present structure was erected by Ninian, William and John Adair in 1510. It replaced the older Adair stronghold that was pillaged and burned in 1489 by Sir Alexander McCulloch of Myretown with his allies the McKies and McDowalls after starving the Adair inhabitants in a siege feud. Stones for the castle were retrieved from the cliff below. No mortar was used in the construction. The cut of the stones is what holds the castle together. The door you see is very high in modern terms. That is because of the reduced demand for doors that do not require you to dismount your horse before entering.
Dunskey can be more accurately called a tower house. Its purpose was not to make war. Scotland at that time had no police force, so the Adairs required a stronghold in a lawless society. The first police constables were appointed in the reign of James VI in 1617 after the Adairs left. The Black Watch was not raised until 1725. Even they rebelled in 1743.
In 1608, the Adairs exchanged this property for the lands of Viscount Montgomery of Ardes. The new property is in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland.
In November of 1998, Dunskey Castle was purchased by an unnamed foreign businessman. He plans to renovate and turn it into a private residence. However, the building is a Grade A listed building by Historic Scotland from which he needs approval.