Lochwood Castle was the seat of the Johnstone family. The original fortification was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification but this was replaced in the late fifteenth century by an L-plan Tower House. It was seized by the English in 1547 and burnt by the Maxwells in 1585.



Lochwood Castle was built by the Johnstone family who had settled in Scotland no later than 1194. They probably built the first fortification at Lochwood, an earth and timber motte-and-bailey castle, around this time. It was constructed upon the eastern edge of a rise of high ground overlooking the Stand Burn. The site's western side was protected by a large marshy area fed from water draining down from Hazelbank Hill. The motte itself was probably topped with a timber tower and surrounded by a wooden palisade. A bailey extended to the south-west. The castle was certainly in existence by 1296 when the then owner, John Johnstone, is recorded as swearing fealty to Edward I of England. Despite this, when Robert the Bruce rebelled against English rule in 1306, the Johnstones rallied to his cause.


In the late fifteenth century, the Johnstones replaced their old timber castle at Lochwood with a new Tower House. This was an L-plan structure probably originally three of four storeys tall. The ground floor comprised vaulted cellars and a pit prison. The level above, which has now been lost, was probably the Great Hall whilst high status accommodation would have occupied the upper storey(s). Extending northwards of a tower were two courtyards enclosed by a barmkin. The Inner Ward included a Hall range on the eastern side. The Outer Ward enclosed the ancillary buildings including kitchen and stables.


Lochwood was made into a barony in 1543 in reflection of the increasing prominence of the Johnstones. They loyally supported the Government during the War of the Rough Wooing, and the then owner - John Johnstone - fought at the Battle of Pinkie (1547). In that engagement Scottish forces were defeated and thereafter Lochwood Castle was seized by the English. It was held by them until 1550 after which it was returned to the Johnstones. In 1582 James Johnstone was appointed Warden of the Scottish West March, an appointment traditionally held by the Maxwells. This fuelled tensions between the two clans and in 1585 the Maxwells and Armstrongs burnt Lochwood Castle. It was restored no later than 1592 when the castle hosted a visit by James VI. However, the feud with the Maxwells continued and in 1608, during an attempted reconciliation, James Johnstone was assassinated.


The feud with the Maxwells eventually petered out and the castle avoided any further attacks. During the Wars of Three Kingdoms the then owner - James Johnstone - sided with the Royalists and fought at the battles of Kilsyth and Philiphaugh. James was captured after the Royalist defeat at the latter and only narrowly avoided execution. He was created Earl of Annandale after the Restoration and his family continued to live at Lochwood Tower until 1710 when it was gutted by an (accidental) fire. Thereafter the Johnstone family moved their seat to Raehills Mansion.





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

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

Hooper, J (1789). Antiquities of Scotland. Vol.2. Wigtonshire.

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

Salter, M (2002). The Castles of South-West Scotland. Folly Publications, Malvern

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.

What's There?

Lochwood Castle consists of the partial remains of a late fifteenth century Tower House and the foundations of associated buildings plus the earthworks of a twelfth century castle. The entire site is on privately owned land with no public access although the remains can be seen from the road.

Lochwood Castle Layout. The first fortification was the motte and the earthwork extending to the south-west may have been part of bailey rampart. The Tower House, which was built in the late fifteenth century, was located to the immediate south of the motte. This would have rendered the courtyards of the tower vulnerable against an enemy force that held the motte.

Lochwood Castle Motte. The Johnstones are recorded in Scotland in 1194 and it is likely they built the first castle at Lochwood. This took the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The earthworks of the motte survive although they are heavily wooded and the mound has an unusual terraced appearance. It is likely this was a modification made to the earthwork long after this original castle was abandoned.

Lochwood Tower. Only the ground level of the tower survives.

Getting There

Lochwood Castle is found off an unnamed (and un-signposted) road accessed from the A701. On-road parking is possible adjacent to the site.

Lochwood Castle

DG10 9PS

55.256733N 3.441895W