CARSLUITH CASTLE

Carsluith Castle was built by James Lindsay of Fairgirth but later passed into the hands of the Brown (Broun) family who owned it for two hundred years. One resident, Gilbert Brown, strongly opposed the anti-Catholic measures of the Scottish Reformation prompting suspicion the castle was being used to hide Jesuit Priests.

What's There?

Carsluith Castle is a small fifteenth century Tower House that, whilst gutted and ruinous, is a good example of this popular form of residence in that era. The surviving detail within the Hall is particularly impressive.

Getting There

The castle is located directly off the A75 a short way south east of the small village of Carsluith. There is an adjacent car park for patrons of the tearoom/cafe.

Carsluith Castle

DG8 7DY

54.859449N 4.346629W

History

 

In the fifteenth century the area around Carsluith Castle was owned by the Cairns family. Around 1460 it came under the control of James Lindsay of Fairgirth, Chamberlain of Galloway and it was probably he who built the castle. Overlooking Wigtown Bay, its initial configuration was in the form of a traditional rectangular Tower House – a type of accommodation that was popular with Scottish gentry at this time. Four storeys tall the ground floor housed two vaulted storage cellars, the first floor the Great Hall and the upper levels were accommodation. The tower would have originally been surrounded by support buildings such as a brewhouse, bakehouse and stables.

 

Around the mid-sixteen century the castle came into the ownership of the Broun (later Brown) family who, in the 1560s, added a new tower significantly expanding the footprint of the castle. This new addition housed an elaborate stairway improving access to the upper levels and ventilation throughout the building. It also included a new entrance marked by the family's coat of arms. The Browns had a long association with Galloway with records showing they were servants of King David I in the area as early as the twelfth century. Like other families they were embroiled in the violent Clan warfare that plagued Scotland in particular with the Protestant Clan McCulloch of nearby Cardoness Castle.

 

Around the time the Stair Tower was being added to the castle, one of the Brown family was opposing the Protestant Government. Gilbert Brown had pursued a career in the church rising to become Abbot of Sweetheart Abbey. These were turbulent times for the church though with the Scottish Reformation in full swing. When Catholicism was outlawed in 1560, Gilbert continued to perform the Mass prompting his arrest and incarceration in Blackness Castle. Carsluith fell under the suspicion of the authorities at this time who believed the castle was being used a shelter for Jesuit Priests although there is no evidence to suggest this actually happened.

 

The castle continued as a residence until 1748 when the final owner from the Brown family, James Brown, departed for a new life in India. The castle was sold but was never again occupied as a domestic residence and was later used as an outbuilding for a farm.

 

Bibliography

 

Brann, J (2001). Carsluith Castle, Dumfries and Galloway. Discovery Excavation Society, Edinburgh.

CANMORE (2016). Carsluith Castle. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Coventry, M (2008). Castles of the Clans: the Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. RCAHMS, Musselburgh.

Gifford, J (1996). Dumfries and Galloway. The Buildings of Scotland. Penguin, London.

M'Kerlie, P.H (1906). History of the lands and their owners in Galloway. RCAHMS, Musselburgh.

Maxwell-Irving, A.M.T (2000). Border Towers of Scotland: Their History and Architecture. Stirling.

Reid, S (2006). Castles and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans 1450-1650. Osprey, Oxford.

Simpson, W.D (1959). Scottish Castles - An introduction to the Castles of Scotland. HM Stationery Office, Edinburgh.

Stell, G (1996). Dumfries and Galloway: Exploring Scotland's Heritage'. Edinburgh.

Tabraham, C (2000). Scottish Castles and Fortifications. Historic Scotland, Haddington.