Photo: Paul Stevenson

Threave Castle looms over the surrounding Scottish countryside, casting a formidable shadow – and for good reason. This Dumfries and Galloway garrison has a thrilling and bloody history.

Built on an island in the River Dee, on ground rumoured to have once been the home of ancient Gallovidian rulers, this castle is only reachable by boat. Ring the bell to summon the boatman, and cross the Dee’s turbulent waters to see the remnants of one of Scotland’s first multi-story castles!

Commissioned by Archibald ‘The Grim’ Douglas in 1369, Threave Castle acted as a crucial defensive outpost against the English and the resident Gallovidians, both of whom were sworn enemies of Douglas and his allies. Douglas was gifted the castle and the Lordship of Galloway by Robert the Bruce after they had driven the English out during the Scottish War of Independence. Robert hoped that Archibald was up to the task of vanquishing their enemies. By the time of Archibald’s death in 1400 he had done just that, and had become one of the most powerful men in southern Scotland. But the story of Threave Castle does not end there.

Fifty years later, Castle Threave is all that stands between James II and the re-taking of Scotland. Archibald’s ancestors, known as the Black Douglasses, were involved in an epic two-month siege by James’ English forces, and the remnants of this can still be seen. The Black Douglasses were forced to destroy many of the smaller buildings surrounding the tower, in order to create a purpose-built defensive artillery tower, which still stands. The tower was never destroyed and the battle was lost by coin and betrayal.

Visit the area and walk around the castle’s crumbling walls to experience the role this once-mighty castle played in the history of Scotland.


Kelton Mains, Dumfries and Galloway, DG7 1TJ
Tel: 07711 223 101
Times: April – September, daily, 9.30 – 16.30
October, daily, 9.30 – 15.30