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Publication Account

Date 1986

Event ID 1017422

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


What was once a royal castle now survives as enigmatic humps and hollows in a flat riverside fIeld a short distance downstream from Kirkcudbright. On closer examination these remains reveal themselves to be the foundations of a stone-built stronghold of some magnitude. Excavation in 1911-13 showed that within a surrounding ditch, originally a wet moat, were the walls of a courtyard castle with a double-towered gatehouse facing north-east. Unusually, the gatehouse towers were buttressed. The curtain walls had had rounded towers at the angles, including a larger donjon at the south-west The finds were particularly rich in pottery and ironwork, including eight imported French jugs (Stewartry Museum).

The castle first appears on record in 1288, held by one of the four Guardians of the realm. Although the layout is reminiscent of an 'Edwardian' castle, there is no evidence that Edward I of England had a direct hand in its construction. However, he did stay here for a few days in July 1300, and it appears as an English supply-base until 1306-7. Little is known of its history during Douglas ownership. It may have served as a refuge for Henry VI of England after the Battle of Towton in 1461, and was probably last used as a residence by James IV on journeys to and from Whithom. In 1509 possession of the castle lands passed to the burgh.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Dumfries and Galloway’, (1986).

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