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The Chatelaine's Scottish Castles

Caerlaverock Castle

near Dumfries

7 miles south-east of Dumfries at Bank End on the B725 road. Surrounded by water, and built around 1280, this is one of the best surviving examples of medieval castle-building in Scotland.

Caerlaverock was besieged by Edward I in 1300 and held by the English until 1312 when the keeper switched allegiance to the Robert the Bruce. The English laid siege again to reclaim the castle, but failed to take it. Later the keeper, Sir Eustace Maxwell, was ordered by Robert the Bruce to dismantle it to prevent any future use by the English. And this was only the beginning of its turbulent story. Detailed information is provided on the page by John Boyd. An earlier castle can be seen in the woods a few hundred yards away.

Accessible by bridge, the castle is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. Admission charge. Open 1 April - 30 September daily 9.30am - 5.30pm; 1 October - 31 March daily 10am - 4pm.

The Medieval French poem (Le Siege de Karlavreock / The Siege of Caerlaverock) written about the siege in 1300 gives this description of the castle:

In shape it was like a shield, for it had but three sides round it, with a tower at each corner, but one of them was a double one, so high, so long and so wide, that the gate underneath it, well made and strong with a drawbridge and a sufficiency of other defences. And it had good walls and good ditches filled right up to the brim with water. And I think you will never see a more finely situated castle, for on the one side can be seen the Irish sea, towards the west, and the north the fair moorland, surrounded by an arm of the sea, so that no creature born can approach it on two sides, without putting himself in danger of the sea. On the south side it is not easy for there are many places difficult to get through because of woods and marshes and ditches hollowed out by the sea where it meets the river.

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