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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016567

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The castle occupies a naturally well defended promontory above the confluence of the River Teith with the Ardoch Bum. Although the visitors eye is instinctively drawn to the impressive and forbidding bulk of the masonry castle, there are outer defences comprising a suite of relatively slight earthworks (double ditches with medial bank) on the more vulnerable north side and a single bank and ditch on the south. Once the northern outworks have been crossed, the massive keep-gatehouse of the castle cuts across the neck of the promontory and lying behind it there is a courtyard protected by a curtain wall which still stands to its full height of 12m.

Built shortly before 1400 for the Regent Albany (Governor of Scotland in the minority of James I), the design of the castle is unusual, combining simplicity with considerable defensive strength. It did not follow the contemporary fashion by relying on a defensive wall-head and projecting towers, but gained its strength from a high, simple curtain wall and an ingeniously planned keep-gatehouse. The latter was designed as two adjoining tower-houses, one for the lord's hall (on the east) and the other for the common hall; the two were not linked internally and both could have acted as separate redouts. The main entrance to the castle was through a simple passage under, but with no direct access to, the lord's hall. Thus the defences combined the advantages of the curtain-wall castle with those of the tower-house or keep.

Besides the keep-gatehouse the courtyard contains a substantial kitchen block on the west and a range of lesser buildings on the east. The rear (south) wall of the castle is pierced by windows but there is no evidence to suggest that a range of buildings has been demolished along this wall, and it is more likely that they were never constructed.

The castle remained in use into the 18th century and during the '45, when it was falling into disrepair, it served as a prison. By the end of that century, however, it was roofless, but was restored between 1883 and 1886.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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