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  • Writer's pictureBrooke McKinnell

My wonderful castle tour of Dumfries and Galloway


©2023 Wanderscot

Visitors to Scotland often overlook this general area, and it’s a shame as it has so much to offer. The McKinnells of my family were all from here. The McKinnells were also crofters, many spread out over the region, especially in Wigtownshire. My grandparents lived in a little town called Newton Stewart, and I would spend my summer holidays visiting them as a child. They didn’t like to travel and were not keen on the busy city life, so visiting Aberdeen was out of the question. Nevertheless, I have many fond memories from the area that will remain with me forever.

One day, I decided I wanted to explore the area, now as an adult. I merged it with my love of castles and history. So I designed an itinerary and, after much research, created my route and set off. I started my route off in Ayr, although not Dumfries and Galloway. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit others en route.

So, let me show you some of these epic castles and abbeys. Make yourself a cup of tea, pour a dram, and grab snacks because this is a good read. I shall talk more about the region in another post.

Hopefully, this may inspire you to visit these beautiful places too.


©2023 Wanderscot

Threave castle


Threave Castle is a historic castle near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Construction: The castle was built in the late 14th century by Archibald the Grim, 3rd Earl of Douglas, on an island in the River Dee. It was designed as a stronghold for the powerful Douglas family.

Architecture: Threave Castle is a four-story house with a circular stair tower and a corbelled-out parapet. The castle was built using red sandstone and has a distinctive pinkish hue.

Siege: In 1455, Threave Castle was besieged by the forces of James II, King of Scotland, who was attempting to bring the powerful Douglas family under control. The siege lasted for several months before the castle finally surrendered.

Prison: Following the siege, Threave Castle became a royal castle and was used as a prison for several high-profile prisoners, including Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, who was executed there in 1455.

Access: Threave Castle is accessible only by boat, with a short crossing available from the nearby Threave Garden. Visitors can explore the castle and its surrounding grounds, now managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

Ghost stories: Threave Castle is haunted by the ghost of a piper, who was allegedly sent to the castle to play music to the imprisoned Earl of Douglas. The piper was never seen again, and his ghost is said to play mournful tunes around the castle to this day.




©2023 Wanderscot

Dumfries and Galloway

Construction: The Maxwell family built the castle in 13th century one of the region's most powerful families. The castle was designed as a stronghold for the Maxwells and to protect the southern border of Scotland.

Architecture: Caerlaverock Castle is a unique triangular-shaped castle surrounded by a moat. It was built using local red sandstone and has a distinctive pinkish hue. The castle has three main towers, each with a different function: the east tower was used for domestic purposes, the west tower was the residence of the lord of the castle, and the south tower was the castle's central defensive tower.

Siege: The castle is famous for its role in the Wars of Scottish Independence. In 1300, it was besieged by King Edward I of England, attempting to conquer Scotland. The siege lasted for several months before the castle finally surrendered.

Restoration: The castle fell into disrepair in the 17th century and was abandoned. It was partially restored in the 19th century by the Maxwell family, who used it as a hunting lodge.

Visitor attraction: Today, Caerlaverock Castle is a popular visitor attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Visitors can explore the castle's ruins, learn about its history, and enjoy the surrounding countryside and wildlife, including a large colony of nesting natterjack toads.

Film location: Caerlaverock Castle has been used as a filming location for several movies and TV shows, including the movie "The Decoy Bride" and the TV show "Outlander."




©2023 Wanderscot

Dalquharran Castle


Dalquharran Castle is a historic castle near the village of Dailly in South Ayrshire. We visited this on our way to Dumfries and Galloway.


Construction: The architect Robert Adam built the castle in the late 18th century for Thomas Kennedy, the 10th Earl of Cassillis. It was designed as a grand country house for the Kennedys and was built using local sandstone.

Architecture: Dalquharran Castle is a grand Palladian-style mansion with a central block flanked by two pavilions. The castle is known for its elaborate stonework and ornate interiors, which include a grand staircase and a large oval drawing room.

History: The castle was home to the Kennedy family for several generations but fell into disrepair in the 20th century. It was abandoned in the 1960s and suffered from vandalism and neglect.

Restoration: In 2007, Dalquharran Castle was purchased by a private owner who has since restored the castle to its former glory. Restoration has included repairing the stonework, re-roofing the castle, and restoring the ornate interiors.

Literary connection: Dalquharran Castle is said to have inspired the setting for the castle of Auchendrane in the novel "The Brownie of Bodsbeck" by James Hogg, a famous Scottish writer.



©2023 Wanderscot
Dunure Castle is a ruined castle near the village of Dunure in South Ayrshire, Scotland.

Construction: The castle was built in the 13th century by the Clan Kennedy, a powerful Scottish family. It was built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Firth of Clyde and was designed as a defensive stronghold.

Architecture: Dunure Castle is a ruined castle, with only a few sections of the walls and towers remaining. The castle originally had a rectangular layout, with a central courtyard surrounded by four towers. The castle also had a gatehouse and a drawbridge, which would have been raised in times of attack.

History: Dunure Castle played a significant role in the history of Scotland, particularly during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The castle was besieged by English forces several times, including by Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert the Bruce, in 1307. The castle was also the site of the infamous "Wallace Larder" incident, where English soldiers reportedly trapped a group of Scottish rebels in a tower and starved them.

Restoration: The castle fell into disrepair in the 16th century and was abandoned. The Kennedy family partially restored it in the 19th century and used it as a picturesque folly.
Visitor attraction: Today, Dunure Castle is a popular visitor attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Visitors can explore the castle's ruins, learn about its history, and enjoy the stunning coastal views from its location. The castle is also a popular spot for photographers and tourists.

Literary connection: Dunure Castle is said to have inspired the fictional castle of Ellangowan in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering."




©2023 Wanderscot

Glenluce Abbey

Glenluce Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery near the village of Glenluce in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Construction: The abbey was founded in 1192 by Roland, Lord of Galloway, as a daughter house of Dundrennan Abbey. The abbey was built using local sandstone and was designed in the Gothic style.

Architecture: Glenluce Abbey is a ruined abbey, with only a few sections of the walls and buildings remaining. The abbey originally had a rectangular layout, with a central cloister surrounded by a church, chapter house, dormitory, and other buildings. The abbey also had a gatehouse and a mill.

History: Glenluce Abbey was a significant religious and cultural center in medieval Scotland. The abbey was home to a community of Cistercian monks who followed a strict rule of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The abbey was also involved in the agricultural and economic development of the surrounding area, with the monks farming the land and trading with local merchants.

Decline and dissolution: The abbey fell into decline in the 16th century, partly due to the Scottish Reformation and the decline of monasticism in Scotland. The abbey was dissolved in 1587, and its lands and buildings were seized by the Crown.

Restoration and preservation: Glenluce Abbey was partially restored in the 19th century by the owner of the surrounding estate, who used the abbey as a romantic ruin in his landscape garden. The abbey is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public as a visitor attraction.

Visitor attraction: Today, Glenluce Abbey is a popular visitor attraction and is a significant example of medieval Scottish architecture and monastic life. Visitors can explore the ruins of the abbey and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the abbey's location. The abbey is also a popular spot for photographers and tourists.





©2023 Wanderscot

Dundrennan Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway,

Construction: The abbey was founded in 1142 by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, as a daughter house of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, England. The abbey was built using local sandstone and was designed in the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Architecture: Dundrennan Abbey is a ruined abbey, with only a few sections of the walls and buildings remaining. The abbey originally had a cruciform layout, with a central crossing tower and a nave, choir, transepts, and apse. The abbey also had a chapter house, sacristy, cloister, and other buildings.

History: Dundrennan Abbey was a significant religious and cultural center in medieval Scotland. The abbey was home to a community of Cistercian monks who followed a strict rule of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The abbey was also involved in the agricultural and economic development of the surrounding area, with the monks farming the land and trading with local merchants.

Royal connections: Dundrennan Abbey is particularly notable for its association with Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1568, following her defeat at the Battle of Langside, Mary sought refuge at the abbey before fleeing to England. Mary Queen of Scots spent her last hours in Scotland here.

Decline and dissolution: The abbey fell into decline in the 16th century, partly due to the Scottish Reformation and the decline of monasticism in Scotland. The abbey was dissolved in 1560, and its lands and buildings were seized by the Crown.




©2023 Wanderscot

Sweetheart Abbey


Sweetheart Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery near New Abbey's village in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It is also where my great-grandparents and grandparents ( McKinnell) got married. So it's quite sentimental.

Construction: The abbey was founded in 1273 by Devorgilla, Lady of Galloway, in memory of her husband, John Balliol. The abbey was built using local sandstone and was designed in the Gothic style.

Architecture: Sweetheart Abbey is a ruined abbey, with only a few sections of the walls and buildings remaining. The abbey originally had a cruciform layout, with a central tower and a nave, choir, transepts, and apse. The abbey also had a chapter house, sacristy, cloister, and other buildings.

History: Sweetheart Abbey was a significant religious and cultural center in medieval Scotland. The abbey was home to a community of Cistercian nuns who followed a strict rule of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The abbey was also involved in the agricultural and economic development of the surrounding area, with the nuns farming the land and trading with local merchants.

Name: Sweetheart Abbey is so named because Devorgilla was said to have carried her husband'sit's embalmed heart with her wherever she went, even after his death. When she founded the abbey, she had a shrine built to house his heart, and the abbey became known as "Dulce Cor," meaning "Sweet Heart" in Latin.

Decline and dissolution: The abbey fell into decline in the 16th century, partly due to the Scottish Reformation and the decline of monasticism in Scotland. The abbey was dissolved in 1624, and its lands and buildings were granted to the Stewart family.

Restoration and preservation: Sweetheart Abbey was partially restored in the 19th century by the owner of the surrounding estate, who used the abbey as a romantic ruin in his landscape garden. The abbey is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to the public as a visitor attraction.



©2023 Wanderscot

Kenmure Castle


Kenmure Castle is a historic castle near New Galloway in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Construction: The Gordon family built Kenmure Castle in the 16th century. The castle was originally a tower house but was later expanded and modified into a large mansion in the 18th century.

Architecture: The castle is built of sandstone and features a mix of architectural styles, including medieval and Georgian. The castle has a symmetrical design, with a central tower flanked by two wings. The castle also features a large courtyard and gardens.

History: Kenmure Castle has a long and storied history, connecting to several prominent Scottish families, including the Gordons, the Maxwells, and the Dalrymples. The castle was the site of several battles and sieges during the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Covenanting Wars.

Restoration and preservation: Kenmure Castle was abandoned in disrepair in the 20th century. In recent years, however, the castle has been undergoing restoration and preservation work, intending to transform it into a luxury hotel and event space.

Location and surroundings: Kenmure Castle is in a beautiful and secluded part of Dumfries and Galloway, surrounded by forests, hills, and lochs. The castle is near Galloway Forest Park, a popular destination for hiking, wildlife spotting, and stargazing.

Current status: As of 2021, Kenmure Castle is still undergoing restoration and is not open to the public. However, visitors can still enjoy the castle's stunning exterior and surroundings, and the castle is expected to reopen as a luxury hotel and event space shortly.



©2023 Wanderscot

Dunskey Castle


Dunskey Castle is a historic castle located near the village of Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

The castle was initially designed as a tower house, with additional wings and a courtyard added in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Adair family used it as a residence until the early 20th century when it fell into disrepair. Built by the Adairs, a Scottish noble family who were granted the land by James IV of Scotland in the early 1500s. It was designed as a tower house, with thick walls, narrow windows, and a defensive layout common in Scottish castles at the time. The tower house was built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Irish Sea, providing an excellent defensive position and commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

In the 18th century, the castle was sold to the Kennedy family, who made further renovations to the building. However, the castle fell into disrepair in the 19th century and was abandoned by the Kennedys.

The castle is in ruins today, with much of the structure destroyed by time and weather. However, the ruins still glimpse the castle's storied past and are a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts and offer panoramic views of the Irish Sea and the surrounding countryside.
In recent years, the castle has also become a popular location for weddings and other events, with the ruins providing a unique and historical backdrop for special occasions.

©2023 Wanderscot



©2023 Wanderscot

Morton castle


Morton Castle is a ruined castle near Thornhill's village in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The castle was initially built in the late 14th century by John de Morville, a member of a powerful Anglo-Norman family.
The castle was strategically located on a hill overlooking the countryside, with defensive walls and towers designed to protect its occupants. The castle changed hands several times, with various Scottish nobles and clans taking ownership of the building. In the 16th century, Morton Castle was owned by the Douglas family, one of the most powerful families in Scotland at the time. The castle was a base for the Douglas family's military campaigns and was crucial in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. However, the castle fell into disrepair in the 17th century and was abandoned by the Douglas family.
Visitors to Morton Castle can explore the remains of the castle, including the defensive walls and towers, the courtyard, and the surrounding gardens. The castle offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is a popular spot for hiking and outdoor activities.



Other mentions:

Dundonald Castle
Craignethan Castle
Greenan Castle
Culzean Castle
Crossraguel Abbey
Whithorn priory
Cardoness Castle
Lochmaben
The Lincluden Collegiate church


If you have any queries, please send me an email :-) I would be happy to help.

©2023 All content on this page is copyrighted/ owned by Brooke the wandering scot @wanderscot

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