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History

An English castle in Scotland

At its heart, Lochmaben Castle stands on a trapezoidal platform. When the castle was established by King Edward I of England in 1298, this formed the inner ward of the peel – an enclosure with a timber palisade. That original fortification housed the castle garrison and contained a great timber tower.

The castle soon proved its worth, withstanding several attacks:

  • in 1299, the peel withstood a five-day siege by the Earl of Carrick, the future Robert I
  • in 1301 it was attacked and taken by 7,000 Scots under John de Soules, who “burnt [the] Pele Toun and Pele”
  • after changing hands several times, it was recaptured and garrisoned once more by the English in 1333

The stone castle we see today was in place by 1364. It finally fell to the Scots in 1385, when it was taken Archibald Douglas ‘the Grim’, Lord of Galloway.

A Scottish royal property

The castle became a royal possession in 1445. King James IV was a frequent visitor, and is credited with major works to rebuild the castle’s great hall in about 1500. James V used the castle as a base for mustering forces before his English campaign shortly before his death in 1542.

The castle was captured by English forces in 1544 during the ‘Rough Wooing’ – an attempt by Henry VIII of England to coerce Scotland into a wedding contract between the infant Mary Queen of Scots and his young son Prince Edward. It was recaptured by the Scots the following year.

Rebellion and decay

The castle was garrisoned by Lord Maxwell as part of a planned Catholic rebellion following the Protestant Reformation of 1560, but was besieged and taken by James VI’s army in 1588.

It was to have been repaired, but little seems to have been done. The castle was abandoned in the 1700s, and used to supply stones for Lochmaben town.

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