A WALK AROUND THREAVE CASTLE/OUT AND ABOUT IN DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY

There is a Scottish proverb “Every man’s man had a man and that made Treve fall”. The origin of this proverb is the following story: the governor of Threave Castle left a deputy and he a substitute by whose negligence the castle was taken and burned. The meaning of the proverb is that when people employ other people to do the business that they were entrusted with, often both neglect it

  • Threave Castle is situated on an island in the River Dee, 2.5 km west of Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, South west Scotland. It was the home of ‘Black’ Douglas Earls of Douglas from the late 14th century until their fall in 1455 and is now open to the public as a site that is looked after by Historic Scotland .  Threave Castle saw an incredible rise of 33% in visitors last year according to the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions 2014 Annual Visitor Trend Report, and is truly worth a visit if your Visiting Dumfries and galloway , or even if you have lived here all your life . Every time you visit there is something different to see and spot as the season change and the years pass.
    Opening Hours (2015)
    1 Apr 2015 – 31 Oct 2015

    Open: April – Oct, first outward sailing at 10am, last outward sailing 4.30pm (3.30pm in October)

    Entry Price

    Adult £4.50 per ticket
    Child £2.70 per ticket
    Concession £3.60 per ticket

    Boat trip included in admission price.

    Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.

As a child I remember visiting the Castle with my sisters and parents, it seemed like such and adventure back then with the walk along the winding path ( seemed like miles then but its only a 10 minute walk) through the countryside, woods and hedgerows  from the car park at  Kelton Mains Farm to where you start to get a view of the Castle, a massive tower house (69 ft), or 5 storeys high of grey stone  built in the late 14th century by Archibald the Grim who was then the  Lord of Galloway, which rises up from the island sitting in the  River Dee.

This is where as a child I remember being quite excited; there is  small jetty with a a brass bell which you must ring  and the Custodian will sail over in a boat (motorised now but when I was young the boat was rowed) from the island to collect you  to take you over to the castle (up until about the age of 21 this was the biggest boat trip of my life).

Once on the island and you purchase your tickets at the wee shop, you are free to explore the area for the whole day if you wish , there is a large expanse of well kept grass which is perfect for a picnic and a snooze, or to play knights and princesses and run around enacting your very own fairy tale castle story.

The castle itself is a formidable sight as you approach it tall dark and intimidating, it must have been very impressive when in its full glory.  As you enter inside you feel a coldness come over you; its dark and chilly because the walls are so thick and the window slots so tiny.

In this lobby area which would once have contained the castle’s store areas, kitchen, entrance hall and most importantly the dungeon  (which you can still see today) there is a guest book to sign and and information boards telling you about the fortresse’s history. From this area you can climb up the stairs to the upper levels of the building, it is here where you can see stunning views across the Dee, and also get a taste of how life in a castle was for the aristocracy.  If you explore hard enough through the giant fireplaces, up spiral stairs and through small stone doorways  you will even find the old latrine, (they had all mod cons back then – from the outside of the castle you can find the exit pipe from the latrine too).  You can often find yourself alone at Threave and be carried away into a time long, long ago.  If you listen hard enough when it’s quite you can almost hear the sound of battles of days gone by.

Threave Castle truly is a wonderful place to visit for all the family although disabled wheelchair access is not possible due to the path and steep steps which lead to the boat,the castle also has steep steps inside and out. Disabled parking is about 1 mile from the boat.

HISTORICAL FACTS ( Mainly from Wikipedia)

1. Threave Castle was built in the 1370s by Archibald Douglas, “the Grim”, later the third Earl of Douglas, soon after he was created Lord of Galloway in 1369. A small collection of buildings was built around the main keep, including a hall and chapel. Threave Castle became Archibald’s stronghold and he died there in 1400. His son Archibald married Princess Margaret, daughter of Robert III of Scotland

2. Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, was appointed Regent to the infant King James II in 1437. Archibald died in 1439 and in the ensuing power struggle his 16-year-old son William was murdered at Edinburgh Castle, in 1440. Threave passed, with the Lordship of Galloway, to his sister Margaret, the “Fair Maid of Galloway”.

3.The castle was annexed by the Crown, and a succession of keepers appointed, although it is unlikely that the castle was again used as a residence. In 1513, Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell, was appointed keeper following the death of the previous keeper, John Dunbar of Mochrum, at Flodden. In 1526 the position was made hereditary to the Maxwells (later Earls of Nithsdale).

4.In 1542, Robert Maxwell was captured after the battle of Solway Moss, and forced to hand Threave over to the English invaders. It was retrieved for Scotland by the Earl of Arran in 1545.

5.During the Bishops’ Wars of 1638-1640, the Maxwells supported Charles I of England. A garrison of up to 100 men was installed and a grassy embankment was added to the Castle’s defences. The castle was besieged by the Covenanters, and capitulated after 13 weeks. The buildings were partially dismantled, although the keep remained standing.

6.During the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, Threave was used for a brief period to house French prisoners of war.

7.In 1913 the owner, Edward Gordon, passed the castle into State care. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument cared for by Historic Scotland

8. There are artifacts from Threave castle on display at the National museum of Scotland in Edinburgh , Including old wall paneling which was ripped out and turned into a four poster bed.

So If you like castles , history , fun and adventure in Dumfries and Galloway , Threave Castle is well worth a visit , with easy access from the A75 , great parking and wonderful scenery to see . I have to give Threave a 5 star rating , its one of my favorite castles to visit in the region and has many happy memories for me and my family!

You can find more info on the Historic scotland website here:- http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_288

Written for DGWGO by R.B (c) DGWGO Ltd 2015

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