Built in 1369, the massive bulk of Threave Castle is a major landmark in the Stewartry countryside. Once the home of the ‘Black Douglases’ it stands 21 meters high and has 5 storeys. Built on an island, it was once accessed by a movable bridge from the gatehouse to the first floor. This level is vaulted, and was occupied by kitchens. Below is a basement with a well and prison pit. A spiral stair within the 2m thick wall leads up to the great hall, which had a second bridge access to the upper gatehouse. Above this were two timber floors, now missing, with two rooms on the next storey, and servants quarters at the top. Holes in the external walls would have supported a timber defensive structure known as a bretache, which allowed the defenders to drop objects on attackers at the walls. The Historic Scotland website has full details.
The abbey was founded in 1142 by Fergus, Lord of Galloway and was occupied by Cistercian monks who came from Rievaulx Abbey, in North Yorkshire. After establishing the abbey at Dundrennan,they founded two more abbeys in Galloway – Glenluce, near Stranraer, and Sweetheart, in the village of New Abbey, south of Dumfries. All three abbeys are now in the care of Historic Scotland. The Historic Scotland website has full details.
This round tower, built by the Cairns family in the mid-15th-Century, was located at the north east corner of a fortified yard or barmkin, which would have sheltered livestock and provided cellars, a bakehouse, and probably a hall built on an upper level. The tower itself, uniquely circular, was reserved for living quarters, and was accessed via a stair, possibly moveable, from the barmkin up to a first floor doorway. The present entrance, on the north of the tower, was constructed in the 17th or 18th centuries. A new door was formed from a window and a permanent stone stair constructed. The Historic Scotland website has full details.
This old town house is to be found right in the heart of Kirkcudbright. Now owned by Historic Scotland, it was once the home of the Lords of Kirkcudbright. Find out more about its history, see the dark vaults which were occupied by the servants, the secret spyhole behind the fireplace in the great hall, and much more. A small entry charge is made. The castle is open 7 days a week from 1st April to 30th September, but closes during the winter months. The Historic Scotland website has full details.
Cardoness Castle is a well-preserved 15th Century tower house just south west of Gatehouse of Fleet, south west Scotland. It was originally owned by the MacCulloch family of Galloway also known as the MacCullochs of Myreton. They abandoned the castle in the late 17th Century, following the execution of Sir Godfrey McCulloch for the murder of a Clan Gordon neighbour. Fleet Bay can be seen from its battlements. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland. The Historic Scotland website has full details.