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Torthorwald Castle

Castle (Medieval), Earthwork(S) (Period Unassigned), Motte (Medieval)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Torthorwald Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Earthwork(S) (Period Unassigned), Motte (Medieval)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Of Torthorwald

Canmore ID 66156

Site Number NY07NW 4

NGR NY 0328 7825

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Torthorwald
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Nithsdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY07NW 4 0328 7825.

(NY 0328 7824) Torthorwald Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1971)

See also NY07NW 34.

Torthorwald Castle, probably late 14th century in date, is a mere shell, about 60 ft high. Parts of the remains are buttressed and repaired with modern building. The tower stood on the line of a curtain walls forming an enceinte and surrounded by outworks. On the W and NW these outworks have disappeared under cultivation, but the remaining portions are relatively complete.

Ground configuration suggests that there has been a circular tower at the SW extremity of the enceinte. On the N, the enceinte is protected by a broad ditch, 15 ft to 20 ft deep, and an outer rampart. There is a lesser ditch on the E and S. Beyond this on the E is an irregularly shaped enclosure flanked by a ditch through which flows a burn, apparently once spanned by a bridge. Still further E is another rampart running N then W to meet the inner scarp of the dry ditch.

RCAHMS 1920, visited 1919

Torthorwald Castle is generally as described by the RCAHMS. To the NE of the castle and adjoining the interior of the curtain wall are the grassed-over footings of a building. A small part of the extreme NE of the outworks at NY 0333 7829 have been destroyed and built upon.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (RDL) 10 December 1963

The castle earthworks seem to suggest a motte-type structure of 12th century date. Certainly the de Torthorwalds were in occupation before the end of the 13th century, when the estate passed to the Kirkpatricks by marriage. The existing stone castle of is late 14th - early 15th century date, probably mainly the work of William de Carleil who married the Kirkpatrick heiress in 1418. Occupation continued till 1715. Fragments of medieval pottery, in Dumfries Museum, were found in 1966, 1968 and 1974; on the latter date, animal teeth and lead were also found.

All fragments found up to the present have come from a trapezoidal enclosure, to the S of the castle, which shows on aerial photographs of the site. This enclosure was interpreted in 1974 as the bailey associated with the motte.

A E Truckell and J Williams 1967; J Williams 1968; A E Truckell 1974.


Geophysical Survey (October 2008)

NY 0328 7825 Most of the fields to the S and W of the castle were surveyed with a magnetometer in October 2008. The enclosure visible on aerial photographs was evident, but had an apparent break due S of the castle and the character of the enclosure either side of this break seems to differ. Several features are apparent inside the enclosure.

Funder: Hunter Archaeological Trust

Richard Jones (Archaeology Department, University of Glasgow), 2008


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