Plunton Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
~ History ~
1296 ~ The McGhies, land owners in Dumfries, are included in the Ragman Roll submission to King Edward I of England.
1297 ~ Gille Michel Mac Ghie receives a personal acknowledgement from King Edward I for retaking a number of castles across Galloway.
1306 ~ Robert the Bruce is crowned King of Scotland. This leads to the fortunes of the pro-Baliol and pro-English McGhies suffering as a result.
1329 ~ Following the death of Robert the Bruce, the fortunes of the McGhie's improve. Two years after the Kingsdeath Gilbert McGhie is collector of customs in the burgh of Kirkcudbright.
1339 ~ Michael McGhie defects to the English cause, along with other local clans the Maxwells and the McDowalls. They receive the King’s peace after having joined the Scots campaign against Edward Balliol’s claim to throne of Scotland.
1500's ~ The estates of Plunton owned by the McGhie family pass to the powerful and influential Lennox family, who in turn build themselves a tower house to secure their newly acquired lands.
1666 ~ Following the Restoration of the Monachy, Sir James Turner is sent with 140 soldiers to the south-west of Scotland to fine anyone who refuses to take the oath of allegiance to King Charles II or actively support the outlawed Covenant movement. Turner see's this as an opportunity to make money and encourages the soldiers under his command to go about their business in a cruel manner against the local population of Dumfries and Galloway. This inflames an already volatile situation. The final straw comes when some of his soldiers threaten to roast alive an old farmer called Grier for not paying his fine. Four Covenanters overhear their threat and rescue Grier, then gather 150 more local men, including those from Lennox Plunton, and take Turner prisoner.
The Covenanters then renew the Solemn League and Covenant at Lanark before marching towards Edinburgh to protest to the King about the persecution they faced at the hands of Turner and his men, as well as the fact that bishops had been forced on their church.
The King’s army come out to face the Covenanters at Rullion Green in the Pentland hills. The Covenanters have by now ammassed some 900 men, many without proper weapons, whilst the royal army has some 3,000 well armed men. The Covenanters are completely defeated, with 50 killed, 80 taken prisoner, leaving the rest to make their escape back home in the darkness as best they can.
36 of the prisoners taken are executed, and some tortured, including 25 year-old minister Hugh MacKail.
At Ayr and Irvine, the official hangman refuses to hang the prisoners. In Ayr, this problem is only solved when one of the prisoners is offered his freedom if he would do the hanging instead.
The soldiers are then sent to take revenge on the prisoner friends and families.
Robert Lennox had sustained heavy losses in his support of the rebellion. His estates worth 2,000 marks annually, including his castle, is torn from him, whilst he himself is compelled to flee to England where he is forced to live as an outcast and wanderer. Plunton Castle and its estates are awarded to Alexander Murray of Broughton, a member of Parliament for Kirkudbright
Lennox later moves his family to Ireland to seek better fortunes where he turns to illegal trafficking and eventually amasses some property and wealth.
He finally returns to Scotland in the hope of recovering his castle and estates, but is instead thrown into prison where, by cruel treatment, he is brought to the point of death.
1684 ~ Religious persecutions continue across Scotland, including the area around Plunton Castle. A Fugitive Roll publishes the names of Alexander McKean, a tailor in Kirkudbright, William Campbell residence of the village Lennox-Plunton and John Coulart.
A summons is issued for ‘John Corsane in Pluntoune, Robert Shaw ther and James McQhae ther, for conversing with and doeing favours to William Campbell, fugitive;’
All three live in the vicinity of Plunton Castle. The following year Robert McQhae of Plunton is summarily executed.
South of Lennox Plunton, Kirkcudbright
B road of B727
Plunton Castle is a lovely example of a small late 16th century Scottish Tower House that lies in picturesque rolling fields between Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet, on an isolated spot near the shores of Wigtown Bay in beautiful Galloway.
The castle is a typical L-plan, with three storeys and an attic, vaulted, gun looped and with a wheel staircase in wing. It is built of random rubble with dressed openings and corbelled towers.
You can park with consideration on the B-road that runs alongside the fields that surround the castle. A double-gated path will take you off across rolling fields until you see the small ruin. With care you can climb into the castle and explore one level of the castle. A lovely walk well rewarded.