Sanquhar Castle was raised in the thirteenth century by the Ross family as a direct replacement for their motte-and-bailey fortification at Ryehill. It overlooked the River Nith, an important communications artery linking the site with Dumfries, and remained in use until the seventeenth century.



Sanquhar Castle was probably raised in the thirteenth century by the Ross family as a replacement for the earlier motte-and-bailey fortification at Ryehill. Like that earlier castle, Sanquhar was raised overlooking the River Nith, an important waterway that provided access to Dumfries and the sea. In the early fourteenth century, the site passed into the hands of the Crichtons who started the structure visible today.


The earliest part of the Crichton castle was a three storey tower, raised circa-1360, which overlooked a small courtyard extending to the north-east. This was enclosed by a substantial curtain wall which was augmented by strong natural defences consisting of the River Nith on the south and a burn to the north and west.


Around 1400 a new block was constructed at the north-east end of the courtyard which comprised cellars on the ground floor and a Hall above. A three storey 'D' shaped tower was added to the north-west side of the Inner Ward circa-1450 which flanked the gateway into the courtyard. The Outer Ward, which would have been occupied by the ancillary buildings, was enclosed by a stone curtain wall in the early seventeenth century.


Sanquhar continued to be a major residence for the Crichtons until 1639 when it was sold to Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig. He made extensive use of Sanquhar but, after his death in 1700, his son transferred the family seat to Drumlanrig. Thereafter Sanquhar drifted into ruin. Some restoration was carried out in the late nineteenth century by the Marquis of Bute.





CANMORE (2019). Sanquhar. 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. Musselburgh.

Feachem, R.W (1956). Iron Age and early medieval monuments in Galloway and Dumfriesshire.

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

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

What's There?

Sanquhar Castle survives as a substantial ruin but is in an unstable condition and has now been enclosed by fencing preventing access to the interior.

Sanquhar Castle LayoutThe earliest part of the castle was the solar tower.

Sanquhar CastleThe castle stands upon a rise overlooking the River Nith.

Inner Ward Entrance and TowerThe entrance to the Inner Ward was flanked by a D-shaped tower that was added by Sir Robert Crichton circa-1450

Solar TowerThe earliest part of the castle. This tower was refurbished in the nineteenth century.

DitchThe northern side of the castle was protected by a substantial ditch.

Outer WardThe Outer Ward was occupied by stables and other ancillary buildings. It was enclosed in stone in the early seventeenth century, probably before the visit of James VI in 1617.

Getting There

Sanquhar Castle is found just off Castle Street at the southern end of the town.  On-road parking is possible.

Car Parking Option


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Sanquhar Castle


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