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Preserving the Past for the Future

Alloa Tower (Clackmannanshire) - Past and Present


This massive 15th-century tower house stands within the brewery town of Alloa. It was the ancestral home of the Erskine family – the most famous of whom was ‘Bobbing John’ the ill-fated leader of the 1715 Rebellion.

alloa past present
Left: Alloa Tower in 1900
Right: Alloa Tower photographed in 2010 during an SCA visit

The tower is now cared for by the National Trust for Scotland and rescued after years of ruin and neglect. Its somewhat peculiar appearance is the consequence of fire damage and centuries of alterations.

The most obvious of these is the ‘modernisation’ of the 1600s when a series of windows were punched through the massively thick walls and the Renaissance doorway at ground level replacing that at the first floor.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the tower engulfed by massive mansions with extensive parklands. These have since been demolished leaving the tower standing proud – albeit badly mutilated.

The interior has been completely transformed but a pit prison and well remain from the original. At the uppermost levels we are more fortunate as the 15th-century roof beams remain as does the wall walk whose boldly corbelled rounds form such a distinctive feature.

alloa tower
Alloa Tower is in magnificent condition today

Alloa Tower characterises the changing role of the castle from a stronghold to a mansion incorporating a designed landscape. The gardens, terraces and walkways which once rolled down to the River Forth have long since gone but fortunately they are well documented and it is hoped, in time, that they may be reconstituted.

Click here to read our article about the National Trust's involvement with Alloa Tower.


Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.


Date posted: 17 Sep 2016Last updated: 17 Sep 2016


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