Orchardton Tower

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Orchardton Tower is situated in Dumfries and Galloway southwest Scotland, 60 miles east of Stranraer, 19 miles southwest of Dumfries, 4 miles south of Dalbeattie off the main A711 road with good signs at the start of the narrow road leading to the tower.

The Tower is free to visit, open 25th March to 30th September: 9.30am to 5.30pm. In winter, it is open 1st October to 31st March: 10am to 4pm. Closed Thursday and Friday in winter.

Map / DG7 2EH . Area Click On Map . 19 Large Images . Website .

This is a 1450s tower house castle built for John Cairns, a retired customs officer from Linlithgow by Edinburgh, the only round tower house in Scotland, 36 feet high.

The tower is now just a shell with no roof. You can climb the narrow spiral staircase and walk around the top for great views.

The image right shows how the tower would have been used.

The outer buildings were demolished in the 1750s so the stone could be used for another mansion/castle close by.

It is believed John Cairns acquired these lands after King James II set about persecuting the Black Douglas clan and redistributing their land.

James II believed the Douglas where trying to have him assassinated so they could become kings of Scotland.

The Cairns were known for being loyal to the King, with one of them designing parts of Edinburgh Castle.

1558 - the death of William Cairns led to the estate being split between his daughters.

1616 - the part of the estate with the tower was sold to the Maxwell family.

The Maxwell's were landowners in the area that were Earls and Lords, known for supporting Scottish kings in battles such as the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

The Maxwell's later fought with the Jacobite's in the risings that ended with the Battle of Culloden at Inverness in 1746. Sir Robert Maxwell was captured by government forces at Culloden and imprisoned.

His release from prison led to him returning to Orchardton.

1759 - the Maxwell's built a mansion 2 miles south of Orchardton Tower using stone from the outer buildings of Orcherdton Tower.

Orchardton Tower is thought to have been abandoned around that time.

1785 - the Maxwell's were bankrupt, leading to their land and properties being sold to the Douglas family.

1880s - the Douglas had Orchardton Mansion reconstructed as a Scottish Baronial style castle, now known as Orchardton Castle.

Orchardton Castle served as a military hospital during WWII, later as a hotel, and later again as a school.

2012 - Orchardton Castle was put up for sale.

Today - Orchardton Tower is maintained and run by Historic Environment Scotland as a tourist attraction.

Orchardton Castle Tower Images