Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries & Galloway


East of Haddington, near Traprain.


B-road off A1



~ History ~

1290's - Building of Caerlaverock begins by either the English or a renegade Scot as a bridgehead into Scorland.

1300 - The castle is besieged and captured by King Edward I 'Hammer of the Scots'.

1312 - The English commander Sir Eustace Maxwell who was entrusted with the castle by Edward I for the English, conveniently declares Caerlaverock for Robert the Bruce as soon as Edward is dead and his weak son Edward II takes to the throne. The castle is besieged by Edward's forces who are unable to take it. However, in doing so Sir Eustace destroys the castle, in keeping with Bruce's policy, so as it cannot be later taken and held by the English against the Scots.

1330's - The Maxwells rebuild the castle.

1347 - Herbert Maxwell declares the castle for the English King Edward III.

1357 - Roger Kirkpatrick's scottish forces capture the castle for the Scottish crown. Roger is later killed in the castle by James Lindsey and the castle is again dismantled.

1425 - The rebuilt castle is prison to Murdoch, Duke of Albany.

1452-88 - Robert, the 2nd Lord Maxwell, completes the rebuilding of the castle including remodelling the gatehouse into a tower house and building a range of other elegant rooms for guests and other household members on the west side of the court.

1542 - King James V of Scotland quarrelles with King Henry VIII of England over Jame's French alliance. War finally brakes out. James visits the castle prior to his defeat at Solway Moss when his army were routed by the English, partly due to the fact that his nobles refused to accept the orders of Jame's commander. A week later the king, aged just 30 but having reigned 29 years, was dead.

1545 - The castle is surrendered to the English as part of a negotiated agreement but later recaptured by the Scots.

1570 - The castle is once more captured by an English force led by the Earl of Sussex.

1593 - The 6th Lord Maxwell builds wide mouthed gun ports into the gatehouse towers. He is killed during a feudal battle with the Johnstones at Lockerbie.

1634 - Robert Maxwell is created Earl of Nithsdale by King Charles I of England. The building of the residential block dates from about this period.

1640 - In September of this year the Earl and his garrison of 200 men surrender the castle to a force of Covenanters led by Colonel John Hume after a siege of thirteen weeks after which it was again dismantled by demolishing the south wall and southeast tower and unroofing the rest. The castle quickly falls into disrepair and was never again rebuilt.

Caerlaverock is a magnificent triangular red stone castle built in the 13th century, situated where the land curves down into the Solway Firth, with northing between it and the estuary but woods and marshes. Protected by two moats, double-towered gatehouses and thick strong walls set on rock foundations just visible over the surface of the moat, this was a indeed a strong castle of some importance. To the south the remains of an earlier castle, dating to about 1230, have been found together with earlier Iron Age and Roman forts nearby, all of them set up presumably to guard the landing places of this important route into Scotland.