Torthorwald Castle – Fascinating Ruins

It looks like a huge three dimensional jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing, leaving gaping holes in the middle. It certainly looks like it has been there like that forever; there is even grass and plants growing out of its top for good measure. Today it a mute witness to the changing world around it. Once it was an integral part of history being created. This is Torthorwald Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Torthorwald Castle was originally owned by Sir David Torthorwald in the 13th Century and was the center of village of Torthorwald, which still exists today, unlike the castle. It has passed through many families since then. It was first handed to the Kirkpatricks and then in 1418 to the Carlyles. In 1544 it was attacked by Lord Carlyle and sacked, in his raid against his own sister-in-law. In 1609 the castle passed by marriage to the Douglases of Parkhead. It was obviously abandoned a long time ago.

Today, Torthorwald Castle is just a stone mound of earth on which the tower was built and an entrenched lower level of an enclosed area or bailey, with a 14th century central tower built on the mound or motte. This crumbling tower rises to about sixty feet and stands in the middle of a sheep pasture with a ditch around it. The earlier structures that surround the ruined keep have ramparts and wet ditches.

The basement and first floor hall of this rectangular tower are vaulted and in one corner is a turnpike stair that leads to the upper floors. It is likely that the original entrance was on the first floor. There seem to different kinds of construction, probably as the fortunes changed and the castle passed from hand to hand. The walls at the base are quite thick but are surmounted by thinner walls and there are very noticeable seams. This is noticeable every where. It almost seems like there was a change in the design but it is more likely that it reflects a change in ownership or financial status. Grand plans did not come to fruition and Torthorwald Castle stood like a mute witness to all the change.

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