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
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.
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
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
1558 - the death of William Cairns led to
the estate being split between his
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
His release from prison led to him returning
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
1880s - the Douglas had Orchardton Mansion
reconstructed as a Scottish Baronial style
castle, now known as Orchardton
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
Today - Orchardton Tower is maintained and
run by Historic Environment Scotland as a