Historic Scotland

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Castle of the Bruces

Loch Doon Castle was built by the Bruce earls of Carrick in the late 1200s. It may have been built by Robert the Bruce himself, but it’s more likely it was built by his father, also called Robert.

The younger Robert was crowned king at Scone in March 1306, and three months later his forces were routed by the English at Methven, near Perth. The king’s brother-in-law Sir Christopher Seton sought refuge at the castle, then being held for Bruce by Sir Gilbert de Carrick.

The castle is first mentioned that year, when it fell to the English – the elimination of the last Bruce stronghold in the south-west. The Scots soon took it back, only to have it seized again by the English. The Scots finally reclaimed it in 1314.

The castle was later owned by the Kennedy family, and taken from them by William Crauford of Lefnoris in 1511. It was supposedly badly damaged during the reign of James V (1513–42) and abandoned in the 1600s.

A castle once removed

Loch Doon’s unique polygonal plan is derived from its original island site. It once stood on Castle Island in Loch Doon, about 400m south of where it stands now.

Most of the castle was carefully dismantled, stone by stone, and the dressed ashlar reconstructed on the mainland in 1935. This was done to preserve its fine, unusual curtain wall from the rising water levels caused by the hydroelectric scheme.

The curtain wall had two entrances. One had an impressive pointed arch, with a door and portcullis – the latter is said to lie out in the loch still. The other entrance was a postern, or back gate.

Inside the castle are vestiges of the original internal buildings. The Kennedys built a tower house inside the curtain wall in the 1500s, the foundations of which were also brought across from the island.