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home page events castle tours SCA Castle Tour To The Stranraer Area - June 2003


SCA Castle Tour To The Stranraer Area - June 2003


June


Corsewall Castle

Corsewall Castle

CORSEWALL CASTLE

Location – OS Map 76 (NW 991 715)

Galloway: About 6.5 miles north and west of Stranraer, on minor roads north of A718 at junction with B738, about 1 mile south-east of Corsewall Point.

Structure

Little remains above the basement of 15th century keep and castle, except the vaulted basement with the beginning of a stair. It formerly rose to three storeys, and was surrounded by a ditch. The tower 12.8m long by by 10.2m wide over walls 2.4m thick above a plinth, which has been mostly ripped away. There are two loops, a rough hole of the doorway with the base of the stair beside it, a shoot from an upper storey latrine, and a hatch in the vault for hoisting supplies. Symson in 1684 calls Corsewall "a considerable house, but now wholly ruinous".

Brief History

The lands of Corsewall are mentioned in a charter of David II as being the property of Sir Alan Stewart of Dreghorn who was the ancestor of the Darnley Stewarts. It passed in 1333 to the Campbells of Loudoun. A seven-foot-long cannon was found here in the second half of the 18th century, and a number of gold coins, a ring and some silver plate were discovered in 1802.


Galdenoch Castle

Galdenoch Castle

GALDENOCH CASTLE

Location – OS Map 82 (NW 974 633)

Galloway: About 6 miles west and north of Stranraer, on minor road south of the B738 0.5 miles from junction with B7043, at Meikle Galdenoch.

Structure

Galdenoch Castle is a simple and unpretentious L-planned tower of the mid-16th century, very representative of its kind, long a ruin but with the main features surviving. It is now surrounded by a farm-steading, about one mile west of Lochnaw and seven miles north-west of Stranraer. It is notable for the small stones with which it is constructed, even the crowsteps of the gables being of composite construction, with a slate on top. The corbelling of the turret, and other worked stone, is of pinkish hue. The building is of three main storeys with an attic above, but the stair-wing to the north-east rises a storey higher, to finish in the usual small watch-chamber, formerly reached by a tiny turret stair. A circular angle-turret, with shot-holes, surmounts the south-west gable. The windows are small, and one lighting the stair-wing at firstfloor level has an ogival head. There is a small shot-hole nearby. The door is in the usual position within the re-entrant angle at the foot of the stair-wing, and is surmounted by a relieving arch. There is a small renewed panel in the main east walling nearby, with the initials G.A. and the date 1547. The entrance, defended by a draw-bar and socket, gives access to the foot of the turnpike stair, and also to the vaulted basement chamber. This is lighted by two slit windows only, but there is a built-up gunloop. There are two aumbries and a small fireplace.

The Hall on the first floor, measuring 21 by 14 feet, is better lit, and there is a large fireplace, 9 feet wide, with two garderobes in the north wall and another recess in the south-west angle. A small turnpike stair, only 4 feet in diameter, rises from the ingoing of a window near the south-east angle, giving access to the upper floors. This stairway is corbelled out internally, instead of the normal external projection, most unusual. There has been the normal sleeping accommodation on the higher floors.

Brief History

Galdenoch Castle, as might be expected, so close to the main Agnew stronghold of Lochnaw, belonged to that family, whose chiefs were Hereditary Sheriffs of Wigtownshire. It was built between 1547-50 by Gilbert Agnew, second son of Andrew of Lochnaw, who fell at the Battle of Pinkie. His grandson Patrick Agnew succeeded his father in 1635 and was fined £1,000 for refusing to embrace episcopacy. This branch of the family seems to have been brought to ruin about the end of the 17th century by the heavy fines inflicted for support of the Covenant, and by heavy losses sustained in the attempt to establish salt-pans on the nearby coast.


Stranraer Castle

Stranraer Castle

STRANRAER CASTLE

Location - OS Map 82 (NX 061 608)

Galloway: In Stranraer, short distance south-west of junction of A77 with A75, in centre of town.

Structure

Hemmed in by modem buildings so that only its upper part is readily visible, this massive tower is situated in the centre of the town of Stranraer, for which burgh it long served as a gaol. It is L-planned and rubble-built, the walls reaching a great thickness, and appears to date substantially from the early 16th century, with later alteration. There are three main storeys beneath the parapet, which is borne on continuous corbelling of three members, with open rounds remaining at the south-east and south west angles. Above that is a further storey reconstructed in the 17th century and finished in a peculiar fashion, the south part of the roof being flat whilst the north section has been steeply pitched. This reconstruction has not improved the castle's aspect. The stair, which rises in the north-west angle, terminates in a caphouse, also reconstructed. The early windows are moulded whilst the 17th-century apertures have chamfered edges. A number of later windows were opened when the building was converted into a prison. The basement of the tower has been altered, a passage or pend having been opened right through the foot of the stair wing to give access to buildings to the west, and a part of the west wall has been removed. The original doorway lies in the north wall and admits to a lobby, from which are reached two vaulted ground floor chambers, and which also gave access to the. stairfoot. The vaults of these chambers lie at right angles to each other, and each has contained an entresol or intermediate floor of timber reached from the stair. The first-floor Hall is a large vaulted apartment provided with two mural chambers in the west wall, one entered from the ingoing of the west window. The building is now used merely as a store, and is not in very good condition. The ground around the castle was cleared of 19th-century buildings in the 1970s. The castle is now a museum, with exhibitions telling the history from its building, through Covenanting times, to its use as a town jail in the 19th century.

Brief History

It appears to have been built by Adair of Kinhilt in 1511, later passing to the powerful families of Kennedy and Dalrymple of Stair. It must have witnessed some grim scenes during the late 17th century when for a time it became the residence and headquarters of John Graham of Claverhouse, 'Bonnie Dundee' or 'Bloody Clavers', later Viscount Dundee, when acting as Sheriff of Galloway in the campaign against the Covenanters. Many are the tales told of violence and harsh persecution in those unhappy days, when this building must have been hated throughout the entire area. As well as a prison, the castle seems to have been used at one time for worship, and was known as The Chapel.


Craigcaffie Tower

Craigcaffie Tower

CRAIGCAFFIE TOWER

Location – OS Map 82 (NX089 641)

Galloway: About 3 miles north-east of Stranraer, on minor road east of A77, about 0.25 miles from shore of Loch Ryan.

Structure

Surrounded by low-lying marshy ground, Craigcaffie is a well-preserved tower dating from the second half of the 16th century. It is oblong on plan, rubble-built and roughcast, and three storeys and a garret in height. Crenellated parapets with open rounds at the angles, carried on continuous moulded corbelling of three members, crown the east and west walls only, the upper course of corbelling continuing along the north and south sides as an eaves-course. The roof is steep and the gables crowstepped. A massive chimneystack rises near the centre of the north wallhead, and at eaves level nearby a small machicolated projection for the downpouring of missiles on unwelcome guests guards the doorway directly below. This is also defended by a circular gunloop at ground level. The windows are enhanced by the usual simple mouldings, but that at second-floor level in the north wall is more elaborate. The doorway, which is also moulded, admits to the foot of the roomy turnpike stair which rises in the northwest angle, and gives access to all floors. From the stair-foot is entered the vaulted basement chamber, which would be the kitchen, and contains a wide fireplace, with a well, now filled in, near the centre of the floor. A small chamber behind the inward projection of the stair is entered from the kitchen and contains a hatch in its dome-like ceiling for service to the living quarters above. The Hall, on the first floor, is lit by two windows only, and has a moulded fireplace. To the south of the stair is another little chamber, reached from the Hall, into which the afore-mentioned hatch opened. The second floor is very similar, but here the small chamber has been separately entered from the stair, and contains a fireplace. The dividing wall between it and the main room has however been removed. The garret chamber was formerly subdivided, and from this level a few steps at each gable lead up to the parapet-walks. These walks are flagged with stone and drained by ornate spouts. The high parapet is provided with circular shot-holes at the rounds. The skewputs of the gables are inscribed, that to the north-west being dated 157-. High above the doorway is a heraldic panel, now much weather-worn, containing an illegible inscription and two shields bearing the arms of Neilson and Strang, flanked by the initials I.N. and M.S.

Brief History

Robert the Bruce granted Craigcaffie to his illegitimate son, Neil, Earl of Carrick, from whom the Neilsons were descended. The Neilsons held the property until 1791, when it passed to the Dalrymple Earl of Stair. In the 19th century it was occupied by farm labourers. The tower has been restored and reoccupied.


Castle Kennedy

Castle Kennedy

CASTLE KENNEDY

Location – OS Map 82 (NX 111 609)

Galloway: About 3 miles west of Stranraer, on minor roads north of A75, between White Loch and Black Loch, about 0.5 miles north of Castle Kennedy village.

Structure

This tall and impressive E-plan tower house, set amongst the wellknown gardens of the Earl of Stair's property of Lochinch, about four miles east of Stranraer, is less ancient than it is apt to appear. Strongly-sited on a ridge of ground between two lochs it originally sat on an island, it dates only from the early 17th century. Considering its size, and the importance of its builder, it is remarkably plain as to external appearance, although the plan is elaborate and unusual. It consists of a main block, four storeys and an attic in height, with two square wings projecting at the north-east and south-west corners, slightly higher; and within the re-entrant angles created by these, to the west, two further square towers rise to a still greater height, seven storeys, that to the south containing the main turnpike stairway. At a slightly later date, lower three-storey wings were added to north and west.

The building has long been a roofless ruin, and unfortunately heavy ivy growth obscures much of the exterior. The windows are fairly large and regularly placed, and one in the south wing has its iron yett or grille still in place. There are a number of circular shot-holes. The only decorative feature is a fine dormer window and pediment on the north wallhead of the north wing.

The main entrance was in the east front, recessed between the two wings, leading into a vaulted basement passage running westwards through the entire building. On the north side, a door opens into the large vaulted kitchen, measuring 30 by 14 feet, with a water inlet and two aumbries, but, oddly, no fireplace. The basement rooms in the square wings or towers are also vaulted passage. The wide stair in the south tower is entered from the vaulted passage. The upper storeys are now inaccessible but would be on a handsome scale undoubtedly, and commodious, with the usual arrangement of Hall and public rooms on the first floor and sleeping accommodation higher.

Brief History

The lands, formerly belonging to the Church, probably the Abbey of Soulseat, came into the Kennedy's acquisitive hands in 1482, and this castle was commenced, but not finished, in 1607 by John, 5th Earl of Cassillis, replacing an older keep on Inch Crindil in White Loch. It did not long remain with the family which named it however, for they suffered greatly, financially and otherwise, for their support of the Covenant, and Castle Kennedy passed, about 1677, to Sir John Dalrymple, Lord President of the Court of Session, later Viscount Stair, head of that up-and-coming house. It was accidentally gutted by fire in 1716 and never restored. The handsome grounds surrounding it were laid out in the Dutch style by Field-Marshal the Earl of Stair, who died in 1747. The modern Lochinch Castle stands about 0.5 miles to the north.


Dunragit House
Dunragit House

DUNRAGIT HOUSE

Location – OS Map 29 (NX 150 582)

Galloway: About 3.5 miles west of Glenluce, on minor road north of A75, about 0.5 miles north of Dunragit village.

Structure

Dunragit House incorporates part of a massive 16th-century tower house. It may have replaced Old Hall of Dunragit, of which there are no remains. It was held by the Cunninghams.


Castle of Park

Castle of Park

CASTLE OF PARK

Location – OS Map 33 (NX 189 571)

Galloway: About 0.5 miles west of Glenluce village, on minor roads north of A75, west of the Water of Luce, about 0.75 miles from the shore of Luce Bay.

Structure

Although now unfortunately fallen on evil days, the old fortalice of Park, high on its ridge overlooking the valley of the Luce Water and Luce Bay a mile south-west of Glenluce village, is one of the finest examples of a commodious laird's-house of the late 16th century. It is a lofty L shaped building of good rubble, formerly harled, rising to four storeys and a garret in the main block with the stair wing reaching a storey higher to contain the usual small watch-chamber at the head of the tower, approached by a tiny stair-turret corbelled out in the re-entrant angle above third floor level. The roof is typically steep, the gables crowstepped, and a tall and massive chimney-stack rises above the east wallhead, while another, equally massive but short, crowns the northern gable. Certain of the windows are chamfered at the jambs, others moulded, whilst many are now built up. The doorway lies in the foot of the stair-wing in the re-entrant, and is defended by a circular shot-hole to the right. The lintel is inscribed BLESSIT BE THE NAME OF THE LORD THIS VERK VAS BEGUN THE FIRST DAY OF MARCH 1590 BE THOMAS HAY OF PARK AND IONET MAKDOVEL HIS SPOUS, the lettering being now much weather-worn. Surmounting this is an empty panel-space.

The door admits to the foot of the wide turnpike stair, and from the lobby a vaulted corridor gives access to the three, vaulted basement chambers of the main block. That to the north is the kitchen, and contains, indeed practically consists of, a huge arched fireplace lit by two windows. On the first floor is the Hall, a roomy apartment with a large moulded fireplace and lit by six windows one of which has stone seats. In the north-east angle is a mural chamber or garderobe, and in the corresponding angle to the north-west is the well of a former service stair down to the basement, a convenience for the kitchen and the laird's wine-cellar. This stairway also continued upwards, as private access to the bedrooms. The second floor was subdivided, each chamber containing a fireplace, wall-chambers, and that to the north the well of the private stair. The third floor was similar. The garret storey was lit only by one small window in the north gable, but the watch-chamber at the top of the stair-tower had its own fireplace, garderobe and aumbries. During the 18th century small wings were added to north-east and southeast, but these have now been removed.

Brief History

The lands of Park were for long church property belonging to the Abbey of Glenluce. At the Reformation, Thomas Hay was appointed Commendator thereof, in 1560, and is said to have pulled down much of the Abbey to build this house, a practice much in favour in those days. Hay did not have things all his own way, apparently, for we read that he had to lease the Abbey's revenues, worth £666 in 1576, to the infamous 4th Earl of Cassillis - he who roasted the Commendator of Crossraguel in Ayrshire for a like transfer of lease. On this occasion, we are told, the Earl 'dealt with a monk to forge the late abbot's signature, then hired a carle called Carnochan to stick the monk, next wrought on his uncle, Bargany, to hang the carle, and so had conqueist the landis of Glenluce'. Nevertheless, the Hays managed to hang on to Park itself for many generations. The property was acquired by the Cunninghams in 1830, and they abandoned the castle for Dunragit, using Park to house farm labourers. It has been restored.


Dunskey Castle

Dunskey Castle

DUNSKEY CASTLE

Location OS Map 82 (NX 004 534)

Galloway: About 0.5 miles south-east of Port Patrick, on minor road and foot south of A77, on cliffs near the sea.

Structure

Protected by a ditch on the landward side, Dunskey Castle consists of a large ruined 16th-century L-plan tower house of four storeys. To this has been added a low adjoining block of two storeys, containing the courtyard entrance. A rectangular stair-tower stands in the re-entrant angle, and the tower was crowned by bartizans, now very ruined. Little remains of outbuildings within the courtyard. The basement of the tower is vaulted, and contains three cellars, one the winecellar with a small stair up to the hall above. The main entrance leads through the tower in the re-entrant to the wide scale-and-platt stair in the wing, which ascends only to the hall on the first floor of the main block. The hall has several large windows and a fireplace. The upper chambers in the main block and wing were reached by a stair-tower in the re-entrant angle. The adjoining block has a long gallery at first floor level, entered from the hall, over vaulted cellars.

Brief History

The present stronghold was started about 1510 by the Adairs of Kilhilt, although in 1489 an older castle here was torched by MacCulloch of Myrton in retaliation for the murder of Dionysius of Hamilton by William Adair of Dunskey. The abbot of Soulseat Abbey was imprisoned and tortured in the castle to force him to sign away the abbey lands. The castle was altered and remodelled in the 16th century, but was sold in 1620 to Hew Montgomery, then in the 1660s to John Blair, Minister of Portpatrick. It was a ruin by 1684.


Auchness Castle

Auchness Castle

AUCHNESS CASTLE

Location – OS Map 82 (NX 106 447) Galloway: About 9 miles south of Stranraer, on minor road west of A716, about 0.5 miles west of Luce Bay, about 1 mile south of Ardwell, at Auchness. Structure

Auchness Castle is a very altered and extended small 16th-century tower house of three storeys and a garret. Oblong on plan, the harled walls rise to three storeys and a garret. Small, modern dummy turrets unfortunately now crown three angles. The roof is steep, the gables crowstepped, and most of the windows have been enlarged. Lower extensions are added to west and south, with a modem porch to the north. Internal alterations to link with the additions ensure that few features of interest remain. The building, which appears to date from the late 16th century, is in good condition and is occupied as a farmhouse.

Brief History

It is said that Auchness was a jointure house for the adjoining large lairdship of Logan, held by the McDoualls for centuries.


Clanyard Castle
Clanyard Castle

CLANYARD CASTLE

Location OS Map 82 (NX 109 374)

Galloway: About 13 miles south of Stranraer, on minor road west of. 0.5 miles south-east of Clanyard Bay, at Low Clanyard.

Structure

Although once a great house, not much survives of Clanyard Castle, except one gable and an adjoining wall which appears to have been a wing containing the scale and platt staircase of an Lplan tower of c1600-20. On the nearby hill to the SW is a possible overgrown motte.

Brief History

The building was described by Symson in 1684 as "a very great house pertaining to Gordon of Clanyard, but it is now something ruinous". It was a tower house of the of the Gordons of Kenmure, but was ruinous by the end of the 17th century.


Logan Tower

Logan Tower

LOGAN TOWER (Balzieland Tower)

Location - OS Map 82 (NX 097 426)

Galloway: About 10 miles south of Stranraer, on minor road north of B7065, about 2 miles north of Port Logan, at Logan Botanic Garden.

Structure

Little remains of a 15th-century castle, which is said to have been burned down in 1500, except a part that is built into a garden wall. The basement was vaulted.

Brief History

It was a property of the Mac- Dowalls, who held the property until the 20th century. Andrew MacDowall of Logan was a Lord of Session in 1755, and wrote 'Institutional Laws of Scotland'. Logan House is a castellated mansion, and stands near Logan Botanic Garden, a specialist garden of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. The garden has a wide range of unusual and exotic plants, supported by the relatively mild climate, including tree ferns, cabbage palms, unusual shrubs, climbers and tender perennials, set in the walled, water, terrace and woodland gardens.


Killaser Castle
Killaser Castle

KILLASER CASTLE

Location – OS Map 82 (NX 096 451)

Galloway: About 9 miles south of Stranraer, on minor roads west of A716 at ArdweIl, just south of the Killaser Burn, between Cairnhandy and Barnhill Farm.

Structure

In a field SW of Ardwell church is the base of a tower with a vaulted basement of c1470-1520. It measured 10m by 8.7m over walling mostly 1.9m thick, but the north wall was thicker and half of the east side projected a further 0.7m to contain a stair around the corner. The castle was defended by a ditch.

Brief History

It was built by the MacCullochs of Ardwell.


THANKS TO OUR HOSTS


Details here are extracted from –
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 2 – South West Scotland
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter – The Castles of South-West Scotland



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