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Castles in Dumfries and Galloway
The region of Dumfries & Galloway combines rugged cliffs at Scotlandís southern
most point, miles of stunning coastline, and Galloway Forest Park. The market town
of Dumfries has developed into the largest town in Scotlandís southwest, as well as
the perfect base for exploring the Solway coast. Dumfries and Galloway is known for
its artists and writers, and the town of Wigtown is officially Scotlandís Booktown. In
addition to cultural history, this region is also home to some very grand Scottish castles.
Surrounding the market town of Dumfries are several castles and castle ruins
which have played a major role in Scotlandís history. Five miles north of Dumfries is Amisfield Tower, an impressive, well-preserved castle. Also known as Hempisfield
Tower, Amisfield was built by the Charteris family in 1600 and is still occupied today.
In the village of Torthorwald just outside of Dumfries stands Torthorwald Castle, a
large ruined tower built in the 14th century, though a structure has been present on this
site since the 12th century. The ruined Lochmaben Castle in Lochmaben, lies between
Locherbie and Dumfries, and was built by Edward I in the 13th-14th centuries. Down
near the southwest coast almost overlooking the Lake District in neighbouring Cumbria,
England is Comlongon Castle, a 15th century tower house located less than a mile
from Clarencefield. A 19th century mansion was added to the tower, and the castle and
mansion today together form a hotel.
Further southwest from Comlongon Castle is Caerlaverock Castle, a 13th-century
triangular moated castle in the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve. This stunning
castle was owned in the Middle Ages by the Maxwell family, while today this popular
tourist attraction is in the care of Historic Scotland.
Drumlanrig Castle © Lynne Kirton
Just a few miles from Caerlaverock Castle and 7 miles south of Dumfries is Abbot's Tower, a late 16th century tower house which, after a restoration in the 1990s is now
a private residence. Ten miles from Dumfries further southwest of Abbotís Tower isDrumcoltran Tower, a late 16th century tower house near Kirkgunzeon.
Moving much further east of Dumfries, the 16th century Gilnockie Tower is located in
Hollows, near Canonbie, on the west bank of the River Esk, while closer to Dumfries
is Repentance Tower, also built in the 16th century and situated near Annan.
20 miles north of Dumfries near Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway is Lochhouse Tower,
a stone tower home which was built in the mid 16th century, restored in the in late 1970s
and is now a private residence. 2 miles northeast of Moffat is the Frenchland Tower ruin, also built in the 16th century.
Moving west across Dumfries and Galloway 30 miles from Lochhouse Tower is Morton Castle, in the hills above Nithsdale, near Thornill. Similar in structure to Caerlaverock
Castle, Morton Castle was built in the 1500s and was lived in until late in the 17th
century, when it was abandonded, and Morton Castle is now in the care of Historic
Scotland though it is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. Also owned by the Duke of
Buccleuch is Drumlanrig Castle, a large country house just 3 miles from Morton Castle
built between 1684-1691.
Six miles from Drumlanrig is the 14th century Closeburn Castle, one of the oldest
continually inhabited houses in Scotland, 1 mile southeast of Thornhill. Heading back
down to the southwest coast leads to Orchardton Tower, a ruined tower house 4
miles from the town of Dalbeattie. Orchardton Tower is distinguished as being the
only round tower house in Scotland, and is now in the care of Historic Scotland. 10
miles northwest of Orchardton is Threave Castle, 1.5 miles west of the town of Castle
Douglas. Originally built in the 1370s by Archibald Douglas, Threave Castle was home
of the ĎBlackí Douglas Earls of Douglas until their fall in 1455.
Eight miles southwest of Threave Castle on the southwest shore of Galloway is
MacLellan's Castle, in Kirkcudbright. The 16th century castle was home to the
MacLellan family and is now a Historic Scotland property. Nearby Balmangan Tower is a ruined 16th century tower house outside of Borgue, its location perfect for a quick
detour on the way to Cardoness Castle. Just outside of Galloway Forest Park, the 15th
century Cardoness Castle is an imposing ruin just southwest of Gatehouse of Fleet,
now in the care of Historic Scotland after a bloody history of murder and executions left it
abandoned in the late 17th century.
Morton Castle © Bubobubo2
The 15th century Barholm Castle sits five miles southwest of Gatehouse of Fleet, and
served as a stronghold of the McCulloch family. After a Historic Scotland grant in 2003,
Barholm Castle was renovated and is now a private home.
Heading north up and around to the other side of Wigtown Bay, Sorbie Tower is a
fortified tower house a mile east of the village of Sorbie and the ancient seat of Clan
Hannay. 25 miles west of Sorbie Tower is the grand Castle Kennedy, outside of
Stranraer. The historic gardens of Castle Kennedy and the dramatic structures on the
property are rich with historical significance.
Castle St. John sits in the centre of the town on Stranaer, 5 miles from Castle Kennedy.
Built by the Adairs of Kilhilt, this structure has served as a prison, a home and a court,
until its refurbishment in the 1980s led to Castle St Johnís most recent and current role
as a museum.
Five miles from Castle St John outside of Stranraer is Lochnaw Castle, a 16th
Century structure near Lochnaw Loch which was traditionally the ancestral seat of the
Agnew Clan. Eight miles across to the westernmost coast of Dumfries and Galloway, Dunksey Castle is a ruined 16th century tower house outside of the village of Portpatrick
which served as the main defence structure looking out across the North Channel. In
addition to the ruins of the castle, a watchtower structure remains on the cliffís edge.
Dumfries & Galloway castles
Castle St. John