A well preserved sixteenth century Tower House set within a busy farm, Drumcoltran Tower reminds us that such structures were never lone buildings and always formed part of a wider settlement. It was built by a junior member of the Maxwell family, powerful local landowners, and remained occupied until the late nineteenth century.
Drumcoltran Tower was constructed in the mid-sixteenth century by Edward Maxwell, a younger son of the powerful Lord Maxwell of nearby Caerlaverock Castle. The family had inherited the Lordship of Kirkcunzeon (in which Drumcoltran stands) from the Herries family and built the Tower to control the Dumfries to Dalbeattie road.
The Tower House itself was initially just a rectangular structure but in the late 1590s was converted into an 'L' shaped plan with the addition of an adjoined stair tower. As was normal the Ground Floor was a vaulted store (by the early eighteenth century it had been partially converted into a kitchen) whilst the first floor hosted the Great Hall; a single room from which the key reception, administrative and dining functions were conducted. The accommodation for the Laird was on the Second Floor. Despite being a typical example of a Tower House, Drumcoltran does have one particularly unusual feature; the corners of the original Tower are rounded rather than angled but the reason for this is unknown.
Drumcoltran was acquired by the Inglis family in 1668 and within a few decades they had converted the site into the functioning farm seen today. Through marriage it passed to Captain John Maxwell in 1750 who constructed a new house built adjacent to the Tower and connected to it via a short passageway. Together the two structures provided accommodation for the farm labourers. This arrangement continued until the later years of the nineteenth century after which the Tower itself was re-used as a farm store before being taken into State care in 1951.
CANMORE (2016). Drumcoltran 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.
Cruden, S (1960). The Scottish Castle. Edinburgh.
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.