Loch Doon Castle

Loch Doon Castle

Loch Doon Castle dates from the early 13th century, and is said to have been built for Robert, Earl of Carrick. It is an eleven sided curtained-wall castle, originally situated on an island in the loch, but the outer walls were dismantled and re-erected stone by stone when the level of the loch was raised for the Galloway Hydro scheme in the 1930s. When the water level drops very low it is possible to still see the island with some of the stones of the castle still remaining. A local legend states that Robert the Bruce was given refuge there during his time on the run in the Galloway hills. The castle was destroyed sometime during the reign of James V.

During excavations when the water level was low in 1820s and 1830s a number of ancient wooden items were found, some of which may have related to the castle, or perhaps a crannog. Some of these items were found to be log boats, a few of which were more or less intact and raised with great difficulty. The log boats where made from single trees with no joints except at the back of one which had a transom and a slot in the centre, probably designed to take a cross bench. Carbon dating shows the wood to have been felled somewhere around the second part of the 1st century AD or possibly early second. Some of the boats had had pitch applied from the inside, and an oak war club or possibly a paddle, a battle axe head, some ancient cattle teeth, some hazel nuts and a mop for spreading pitch, with pitch still attached were found nearby. Unfortunately all but two of the boats have been lost. These finds show that the presence an ancient settlement, or possibly the aforementioned crannog in or by the island in ancient times.

On another island called Donald’s Isle, north of the castle an excavation was made between 1933 and 1936, before the level of the loch was raised for the hydro scheme revealing what may have been an early Christian settlement comprising both stone and wooden structures. Shards of medieval pottery were found along with a number of worked flints.