Cardoness Castle

Coat of Arms of Clansfolk of Clan McCulloch
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Cardoness Castle stands on a rocky outcrop at the summit of a thickly wooded ridge overlooking the Water of the Fleet in Kircudbrightshire, Scotland. The town of Gatehouse-of- Fleet is on the opposite side of the river. It is a typical fortified residence of late medieval Scotland and was built on the tower-house plan. Four storeys rise over a vaulted basement with there are splendid and elaborate fireplaces in the Great Hall and Solar, together with stone benches. Remains of outer defences and buildings still remain.

The date for the construction of the tower-house is ascribed to the middle of the fifteenth century and was probably built by James McCulloch of Cardoness. During the sixteenth century, the castle was recognised to be of tactical importance and a description of it occurs in military report prepared by an English official, no doubt an intelligence agent or spy. The original of the Elizabethan document is in the British Museum and reads:

Cardines Tower standeth upon an hight bancke and rocke harde upoun the watter Flete: there can noo ordinance nor gounes endomage it of the sea, nor can there noo artyllare be taken to it upoun the lande, ones having the house, for straitness of ground, and if ye lande at Newtoun upoun flete watter, then ye must pass one mile strait ground and up rockes, wheare noo ordinance can be caryed but upoun mens backes. It is nyne foot thick of the wall without a bermeking and withoute battaling. At the ground eb, men may ryde under the place upoun the sandes one myle: And at the full sea, boates of eight tonnes may come under the wall. It may be taken with two hundreitht men, at the suddane. And being in Engliss possession, may be kepte with one hundreit men in garrisone. It will annoy the inhabitantes betuix the watter of Cree aforesaid and Kiyrcowbright: and be assistant to the same. Distance by see from Wirkington in Englonde tuenty-tuo myles.

The defensive character of the site was modified in Victorian times with the introduction of a coastal road passing along the south side of the castle. Formerly the rocky promontory on which it sat was lapped by the tides from the Fleet estuary and the only landward approach was from the north or northwest. The tower house itself occupies the highest point on the rocky summit while a level plateau extending a short distance to the south and east at a somewhat lower level has been the sire of a forecourt and subsidary buildings. These were excavated in 1927 and the buildings rebuilt soon after.

Cardoness Castle is now an official ancient monument of Scotland and is held in trust for Britain by the Secretary of State for Scotland and cared for on his behalf by the department of the Environment. The manor house and parklands of Nether Ardwall is approximately 1 km to the SW of the castle, a site which has been occupied by McCullochs since 1535.

Views of Cardoness Castle

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