Places to Visit
- Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries
Although Caerlaverock is away from some of the more frequented tourist haunts, it is one of Historic Scotland's> more popular castles. It is not hard to see why - an imposing, historic castle, in a lovely setting, surrounded by a moat and with marvellous views of the Solway Firth from the battlements.
From time to time, Historic Scotland also arrange for a recreation of a castle siege at Caerlaverock - and the siege engines are always there as a reminder.
Sir John de Maccuswell (Maxwell) built an earlier castle at Caerlaverock when he was granted the land in 1220 but it was too near the Solway salt marshes and the present castle was begun further inland in 1270, built on a foundation of rock. The Maxwells stayed at Caerlaverock for the next 400 years.
Inevitably, located so close to the English Border, Caerlaverock was an early target when King Edward I> (the "Hammer of the Scots") invaded in 1300 when the Scots resisted the overlordship he had imposed. Edward arrived with 87 knights and 3,000 men. The contemporary account of this great siege is one of the most detailed to survive. The castle fell after a surprisingly short siege and became an English stronghold during the War of Independence> until 1312.
The castle is shaped like a triangular shield, with a strong double tower at one corner where the drawbridge was located. Archaeological excavations in the moat have uncovered wood from the original drawbridge which has been carbon dated to 1270. There was originally a round tower at each of the other two corners but one has crumbled away. Inside the castle is the "Nithsdale Lodging" (pictured here) built in 1634. This was at one time a well appointed three-storey mansion, decorated with heraldic stonework associated with the Maxwell family. Decoration of a different kind can be found south wall of the hall in the gatehouse - Robert Burns'> initials and the date 1776 when he called at the castle!
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