Threave Castle, Kirkcudbright

Must see · Castle · Tourist Spot
Threave Castle is situated on an island in the River Dee, 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) west of Castle Douglas in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.

Built in the 1370s by Archibald the Grim, it was a stronghold of the "Black Douglases", Earls of Douglas and Lords of Galloway, until their fall in 1455. For part of this time, the castle and the lordship of Galloway were controlled by Princess Margaret, daughter of King Robert III and widow of the 4th Earl. In 1449 Threave was regained by the 8th earl, Scotland's most powerful magnate, who controlled extensive lands and numerous castles. He fortified Threave with an "artillery house", a sophisticated defence for its time. The excessive power of the Black Douglas lords led to their overthrow by King James II in 1455, after which Threave was besieged and captured by the King's men.

It became a royal castle, and in the 16th century hereditary responsibility for Threave was given to the Lords Maxwell. It was briefly held by the English in the 1540s, but did not see serious action until the Bishops' Wars, when in 1640 a royalist garrison was besieged by a force of Covenanters. Partially dismantled, the castle remained largely unused until given into state care in 1913. The ruins, comprising the substantially complete tower house and the L-shaped artillery house, are today maintained by Historic Environment Scotland as a scheduled monument.
The castle complex is open to the public.

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Threave Castle reviews

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374 reviews
  • Nice walk down to the castle from the car park, stunning view of the castle, also lookout for deer in the area as they are common, nice walk, some viewing areas and seats along the route  more »
  • Even in October this was great. It was our first time there at the nature reserve we saw deer, lots of red kites and waterfowl but no otters. we are going to go back at dusk to see the bats  more »
  • This is an easy walk and is a circular one which could be improved by better signposting and information boards. However, along the walks you get very good views of the castle.  more »
  • Beautiful walk ways, so well kept. I visited June and saw Osprey chick being fed on nest as dad brought in massive fish. Visited again end of July to see the last of three chicks to fledge, still thinking about it. How wonderful was that! All on our doorstep too. We are so lucky. Thanks to all volunteers for knowledge and stories.
  • Well worth a visit..a small castle ruin that you need to take a small boat journey to the island that it sits 800M walk from the car park to the boat but its an easy stroll for all ages. Advice is to NOT follow Google maps to 'Threave Castle' ..make sure you go to 'Threave Castle Car Park' or you'll end up on a single track road nowhere near the castle.
  • Interesting site. Huge historical interest and plenty of information about it. There is a nice boat crossing to the castle. In addition we also looked at the ospreys and also saw a red kite.
  • Lovely walk, thoroughly enjoyed it! It's a good idea to take your wellies! I look forward to going back to do the bat trail soon!
  • The unique feature of visiting this ancient castle is calling the ferryman to cross the water to the island on which it is situated. There are plenty of information boards scattered across the site but compared to some Historic Scotland sites we have visited it is less interactive and therefore holds less interest for little ones. It should also be noted that the walk to the ferry is approximately 15mins which, whilst enjoyable for us, might be a bit of a trek for those with limited mobility.

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