Explore Historic Threave Castle

As soon as the brass bell is rung, the boatmen on the small island located in the River Dee know that there are passengers on shore waiting to be collected. The visitors have walked through the picturesque woods and crossed the wide open fields that lie between the shores of the River Dee and Kelton Mains Farm. As visitors board the boat and take in the beauty of their surroundings, the boatmen will guide them towards one of the most breathtaking attractions in the area – Threave Castle.

The magnificent Threave Castle was commissioned by Archibald Douglas in the late 1300s. Interestingly he was referred to as Archibald the Grim, as opposed to his father, Sir James Douglas, who was called The Good. Sir James Douglas was a legendary warrior, and was given the task of taking the heart of Robert the Bruce to Jerusalem. While fighting his way through Spain, Douglas was killed, and Robert the Bruce’s heart was returned to Scotland to be buried where it lies today in Melrose Abbey.

Earldom was bestowed on Douglas’ family for his heroic efforts, and the Black Douglas emblem displays a heart. Archibald created a stronghold on Threave Island, when he became the Third Earl of Douglas. In 1369 Archibald became known as the Lord of Galloway, bestowing on the island and the castle the legacy of being the location where the ancient Galloway leaders resided. Archibald died here in 1400, and the castle and its surrounding buildings became embroiled in a history filled with betrayal and murder.

The Napoleonic Wars took place in the nineteenth century and the castle was used as a prison for French captives. Edward Gordon eventually become the owner, but donated the castle to Historic Scotland in 1913. A car park and display buildings were created to share the history of the castle with visitors. The massive castle, which has been declared a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has five storeys, and is 21.1 meters by 18.4 meters. The walls are two meters thick, and it has a spiral staircase, servants quarters, basement and the three towers on the corners of the castle were fitted with gun ports and arrow loops. Only one tower has survived the ages, including the gatehouse, as the castle fell into disrepair after being ransacked during wars and lack of renovation. Threave Castle is still a magnificent sight to behold and recommended attraction for visitors.