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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

Lochmaben Castle (Dumfries) - Past and Present

Lochmaben is sited on a peninsular near the town of that name. It was one of the principal fortresses in Scotland and it is more the pity that it is in such a lamentable condition today. This state of affairs was not the result of conflict but that well-known Scottish pastime of 'carting off' stone for building purposes.

Lochmaben engraving

A romantic 18th century engraving of Lochmaben

Its unique plan, which has intrigued architectural historians for years, is mainly the result of the pressures of the time when the Scots and English fought in the 14th century.

Lochmaben curtain

Lochmaben curtain wall - gap marks entrance

A massive curtain wall cuts the castle off from the mainland with an entrance gate in the centre. From either end walls thrust forward to cross the ditch on open arches but come to an abrupt termination. Boats could reach the castle via a canal at this point.

Lochmaben canal

Boats approach main gate (figure) via canal from loch

Some of the surviving masonry is of the very highest quality.

Lochmaben drawbridge

Entrance with ashlar lined drawbridge pit - SCA group in background

Beyond, and occupying by far the largest area, were outer courts defended by earth and timber.

Lochmaben walls

The enigmatic projecting walls bridging the canal

Lochmaben was long in English hands allowing them to establish a 'pale' in southern Scotland until its capture in 1384.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle

Date posted: 11 Mar 2015Last updated: 15 Mar 2015

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