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Castles and Historic Buildings of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland

 Castles of Scotland - Threave Castle

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near Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Threave Castle is located on an island in the River Dee about a mile and a half west of Castle Douglas, in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The Castle has a rectangular keep five storeys high. The keep was once accessed by a movable bridge from the gatehouse to the first floor. The first floor is vaulted, and was used for the kitchens. Below is a basement with a well and prison pit. There was a spiral stair within the two metre thick walls leading up to the great hall above the kitchens. From the great hall was another bridge to the upper level of the gatehouse. Above this were two floors of chambers, and servants quarters at the top. The keep is enclosed by a curtain wall, which has round towers on its three corners.

Only the south east tower is still standing, along with the gatehouse. The curtain walls are less than 5m from the keep and surrounded by a ditch. The remains of a wall survive along the river bank. There used to be a gated harbour next to the keep to provide secure access from the river. Today the castle can be visited by boat.

Threave Castle was the home of the Black Douglas Earls of Douglas from the late 14th century until their fall in 1455. Threave Castle was built in the 1370s by Archibald Douglas, "the Grim", third Earl of Douglas. His son, also Archibald fourth Earl of Douglas, married Princess Margaret, daughter of Robert III of Scotland. Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, was appointed Regent to the infant King James II in 1437. His heir, William was murdered at Edinburgh Castle, in 1440. Threave passed to his sister Margaret, the "Fair Maid of Galloway". William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas married Margaret, his cousin to return Threave Castle to the Douglases. He improved the castle defences in 1447, building a defensive wall along the river bank nearest the keep. William Douglas was eventually murdered by James II at Stirling Castle. William's brother James became 9th Earl and build a curtain wall with three corner towers and a gatehouse, and a defensive outer ditch. James conspired with the English against the Scottish crown, and was defeated at the Battle of Arkinholm near Langholm. Threave Castle was captured by King James II troops after a two month siege in 1455. The Douglases were driven out, and the castle was taken over by the Crown. The Maxwell family were appointed keepers.

During the Bishops' Wars of 1638-1640, the Maxwells supported Charles I of England. The castle was captured by the Covenanters, and the buildings were partially demolished, although the keep remained standing. During the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, Threave Castle was used to house French prisoners of war. In 1913 the castle into State care. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument cared for by Historic Scotland.

Other Castles in the Area
  Barholm Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
  Cardoness Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
  Carsluith Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
  Edingham Castle, Dumfries And Galloway
  Kirkconnell Tower, Dumfries and Galloway
  MacLellans Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

MacLellans Castle
Threave Castle

Photograph by Alison Stamp. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

MacLellans Castle
Threave Castle

Photograph by David Hawgood. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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