MacKellans Castle

MacLellans Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Location

Castle Street, Kirkcudbright

Road

A755

SatNav

DG6 4JD

MacLellan's Castle is an impressive 16th century fortified Tower House situated in the middle of the town. Although now but a ruinous shell, there is enough remaining to clearly see that it was once a magnificent castle, displaying enormous wealth and importance of the MacLellan family who built it.


There is parking on the main street within a short walk to the castle.

~ History ~


1160 ~ The lordship of Galloway is divided between two brothers. Uchtred, the elder, holds the eastern part from his stronghold at Threave Island. The younger brother, Gilbert, holds sway over the west portion from his father's castle at Cruggleton. The proximity of the MacLellan's lands on the eastern part of Galloway influences their alllegiance to Uchtred.


1290 ~ Following years of erosion in lordship power in Galloway to the Scottish Crown, the lords of Galloway see the opportunity to reverse this upon the crowning of John Balliol as King of Scotland, being a descendant of the lords of Galloway. The MacLellans stand firmly behind Balliol's cause against the rival Robert the Bruce.


1298 ~ MacLellan of Bombie, accompanies William Wallace, when, after his defeat at Falkirk, he sails from Kirkcudbright for France, in order to gain the help of King Philip of France against King Edward I of England, their common enemy.


1306 ~ Patrick, son of Gilbert MacLellan, together with 14 knights, capture Dumfries Castle from Bruce's men following Robert the Bruce's murder of Sir John Comyn in the kirk at Greyfriars. Robert the Bruce is later crowned King of Scotland but is soon on the run following his defeat against the English.


1452 ~ Sir Patrick MacLellan of Wigtown is sheltering in Raeberry Castle from besieging rival soldiers of the Clan Douglas, sent from Threave Castle. They fail to take the castle and so decide to try and bribe a guard to let them in, which they eventually succeed in doing. They seize Sir Patrick and his brother and carry them off to Threave castle, where they are both hanged before their uncle can secure their release in the name of the King.

The guard who betrayed Sir Patrick and his brother is captured by the MacLellan's and forced to drink his reward in molten gold. An already bitter relationship between the two clans erupts in an all out fued.


1455 ~ The over mighty Clan Douglas is finally toppled at Threave by King James II. The MacLellan's are among those who benefit from their demise.


1507 ~ William MacLellan is appointed joint chamberlain of Galloway which brings with it even greater wealth for his clan and for myself a knighthood.


1513 ~ Like many Scottish nobles Sir William MacLellan is killed at the Battle of Flodden fighting the English. He is succeeded by his son Thomas.


1526 ~ Thomas is killed in a brawl in Edinburgh following an argument. His infant son, also named Thomas, succeeds him.


1547 ~ Thomas MacLellan is killed at the Battle of Pinkie fighting the English.

Once more another infant Thomas inherits his fathers estates. The English advance deep into MacLellan country laying siege to Kirkcudbright. The MacLellan's however are strong enough to through off the English siege.


1569 ~ Following the reformation of the Scottish Church some nine years earlier, many clans close to the Crown profit from this in the receipt of profitable lands. The MacLellan's receive a Crown charter to the lands of the former convent of the Greyfriars. The following year work begins on a grand castle which takes twelve years to complete.


1587 ~ Thams MacLellan entertains King James VI of Scotland at their new castle.


1633 ~ Robert MacLellan is knighted after loyal service to both King James VI and King Charles I. His lawless earlier years which included imprisonment for affray and later shooting a man is long forgotten.


1639 ~ Robert's involvement in Ireland in support of King Charles I as well as his squandering of the family fortune see's his estates sold off upon his death to pay off his enormous debts.


1644 ~ Robert's nephew, Thomas MacLellan fights for the Parliamentary cause against King Charles I at the Battle of Marston Moor, andalso at the siege of Newcastle. He later takes his forces and rides north to defeat the Marquis of Montrose at the Battle of Philiphaugh, near Selkirk. The Scottish Parliament award him 15,000 merks and honours, but even this vast sum is insufficient to restore his family's wealth, and he dies in the only remaining MacLellan estates in Ireland three years later.


1649 ~ Thomas's cousin, John, 3rd Lord Kirkcudbright, a devout Covenanter, raises a force in Galloway to fight for the cause in Ireland. There they are cut to pieces at the Battle of Lisnagarvey and he is lucky to escape and limp back home. There he opposes an appointment of a minister and is put into prison in Edinburgh, dying some six years later.


1741 ~ The family fortunes are now at such a low ebb that William MacLellan, 7th Lord Kirkcudbright, is reduced to selling his wares to dancers at a ball to make ends meet.


1742 ~ MacLellan's Castle and estates pass to the Maxwells who remove its contents and strip the roof of its lead. They later sell the ruin whichis allowed to full into further disrepair.