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Elshieshields Tower

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Elshieshields Tower

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Elchieshields; Elshieshield

Canmore ID 66236

Site Number NY08NE 3

NGR NY 06888 85034

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Lochmaben
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY08NE 3.00 NY 06888 85034 Tower House

NY08NE 3.01 NY 06866 85030 House

NY08SE 132 NY 06915 84998 Gatepiers

(NY 0688 8503) Tower (NR).

OS 6" map (1957)

(L-plan tower of the fourth period). This picturesque tower stands on the banks of the Ae Water, about two miles northwards from Lochmaben. Its plan is that of a simple keep, with a square tower built at one of the angles to contain the staircase. It thus presents us with a plan intermediate between the simple keep and the L-plan.

The entrance door is on the ground floor, and is commanded by a shot-hole from the kitchen, which occupies the whole of that floor. The first floor contains the hall, with bedrooms on the two upper flats. The top storey is provided with dormer windows and large angle turrets, used as dressing-closets. The stair-tower is continued two storeys higher, and has a string-course and cornice ornamented with billet and cable mouldings. These features indicate that the tower dates from the beginning of the 17th century.

A very remarkable feature here is the watch-turret erected on the W gable of the staircase tower. It is corbelled-out and balanced on the gable top like the similar work at Amisfield (NX98SE 13), but in this case it is not covered in. Access is obtained by a ladder from the attic of the staircase tower, and there is just room inside the turret for a watchman to stand and look about him. The turret was no doubt originally provided with a beacon garting, the warning light from which would be seen for many miles round in that flat and marshy region.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92.

Elshieshield, a late 16th century three-storey tower with square stair-tower on N rising two storeys higher. The upper floors are modernised internally and a modern house has been attached.

RCAHMS 1920; N Tranter 1965

A building of architectural interest as described.

Visited by OS (JP) 5 October 1972

This L-plan tower-house, which dates to about 1600, forms the E adjunct of an 18th-century house, which has been remodelled and extended in the 19th and 20th-centuries. The tower-house consists of a main block and wing, the main block rising to three storeys in height, and the wing to five storeys. The masonry is of rendered rubble with freestone dressings which, except where remodelled, have roll mouldings. The entrance is in the re-entrant angle of the wing, and the doorway, which is wrought with a stout edge-roll, opens to a newel-stair rising the full height of the main block. Thereafter the stair is corbelled out over the re-entrant, giving access to the chamber and garret at the top of the wing. A cable-moulded string-course and dentilled eaves-cornice extend around the wing at the height of the chamber. The roof is slated, has crowstepped gables, and each of the vacant angles of the block is furnished with a corbelled round. Other features include a panel niche above the entrance (with nail-head ornament), and another in the E wall which retains the partially effaced arms of the Johnstone family.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS/JRS), 8 September 1993.

Listed as tower.

RCAHMS 1997.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery: 'Country Life,' 10/01/1947

Architecture Notes


Miss I.K.H. Beattie, architect, Dumfries: plans, sections and elevations, photographs.

Schomberg Scott album, 10 photographs.


Photographic Survey (17 June 1958)

Photographic survey of Elshieshields Tower, Dumfriesshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in June 1958.


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