Threave Castle is situated on an island in the River Dee, west of Castle Douglas. It was the home of ‘Black’ Douglas Earls of Douglas from the late 14th century till their tumble in 1455.
The island was likely inhabited from the sixth century, and the title is most probable derived from the Old Welsh Tref, meaning homestead. It is feasible that Fergus of Galloway built a timber castle on the island after 1000, but it was burned in 1308 by Edward Bruce.
Threave Castle was built in the 1370s by Archibald Douglas, “the Grim”, later the 3rd Earl of Douglas, quickly after he was made Lord of Galloway in 1369. A modest selection of buildings was built around the principal retain, together with a corridor and chapel. Threave Castle became Archibald’s stronghold and he died there in 1400. His son Archibald married Princess Margaret, daughter of Robert III of Scotland.
Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, was appointed Regent to the infant King James II in 1437. Archibald died in 1439 and in the ensuing ability wrestle his sixteen-calendar year-outdated son William was murdered at Edinburgh Castle, in 1440. Threave handed, with the Lordship of Galloway, to his sister Margaret, the “Fair Maid of Galloway”.
William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas married Margaret, his cousin, in get to retrieve Galloway for the Douglases. He began a collection of improvements to the Castle’s fortifications in 1447, demolishing the previously outbuildings and developing a defensive wall together the river bank closest to the retain. In 1452 Patrick Maclellan of Bombie was imprisoned and murdered by the 8th Earl, towards the get of James II. The deed was reciprocated the identical calendar year, when James II murdered William Douglas at Stirling Castle.
William’s brother James Douglas, now ninth Earl, hastily continued the additions to Threave, making a curtain wall with 3 corner towers and a gatehouse, as properly as an outer ditch and an earth rampart to the north of the retain. Immediately after his brother’s murder, he intrigued with the English courtroom, getting funds from Henry VI’s government for the performs. The ninth Earl’s uprising was defeated at the Battle of Arkinholm near Langholm and his strongholds have been systematically besieged. Threave Castle was issue to a two-month siege in 1455. The castle survived the attack and only succumbed when the garrison was bribed and promised risk-free carry out.
A single story related with the siege, which is repeated by Nigel Tranter, is that the good cannon Mons Meg was built in Kirkcudbright, by a smith named Mollance, for the Maclellans. The cannon was introduced to James II and used towards Threave. The 1st cannonball fired supposedly smashed by means of the castle, taking off Margaret Douglas’ hand as she drank. Having said that, the undamaged condition of the retain, and the different provenance of Mons Meg via Burgundy render these particulars dubious. Some of the King’s artillery was used at Threave, as recorded in the Exchequer Rolls
For the expenditures produced by Brother Andrew Lisours,carpenter, and John Were, burgess of Linlithgow, in the carriage of the Terrific Bombard to the siege of Threave, and its return to Linlithgow, £59 eighteen pence. For wooden lower to its mountings, for iron and stones, coals, wedges and spades, £22 4 pence. And for a pair of wheels used to convey the bombard from Threave to Linlithgow, fourteen shilling 4 pence
The castle was annexed by the Crown, and a succession of keepers appointed, although it is not likely that the castle was once again used as a home. In 1513, Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell, was appointed keeper subsequent the demise of the preceding keeper, John Dunbar of Mochrum, at Flodden. In 1526 the position was produced hereditary to the Maxwells (later Earls of Nithsdale).
In 1542, Robert Maxwell was captured after the battle of Solway Moss, and forced to hand Threave in excess of to the English invaders. It was retrieved for Scotland by the Earl of Arran in 1545.
In the course of the Bishops’ Wars of 1638-1640, the Maxwells supported Charles I of England. A garrison of up to 100 adult males was set up and a grassy embankment was extra to the Castle’s defences. The castle was besieged by the Covenanters, and capitulated after 13 months. The buildings have been partially dismantled, although the retain remained standing.
In the course of the Napoleonic Wars in the early nineteenth century, Threave was used for a quick time period to home French prisoners of war. In 1913 the owner, Edward Gordon, handed the castle into State care. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument cared for by Historic Scotland, and can be visited by boat.
Threave Castle’s rectangular retain is 21 m (sixty nine ft), or 5 storeys substantial, and 18.four by 12.one m (sixty by 40 ft) m by 12.one m in plan. The retain was at the time accessed by a movable bridge from the gatehouse to the 1st ground. This amount is vaulted, and was occupied by kitchens. Below is a basement with a properly and jail pit. A spiral stair in just the two m (6 ft seven in) thick wall qualified prospects up to the good corridor, which had a 2nd bridge access to the upper gatehouse. Earlier mentioned this have been two timber flooring, now lacking, with two rooms on the following storey, and servants quarters at the prime. Holes in the external walls would have supported a timber defensive construction identified as a bretache, which authorized the defenders to drop objects on attackers at the walls.
The retain is enclosed by the later curtain wall, which has round towers on its 3 corners, and a collection of arrow loops and gun ports which have been extra when artillery began to engage in a considerable job in warfare. Only a single of these towers, the south east, continues to be, together with the gatehouse, which was previously geared up with a drawbridge. The curtain walls are only four.4m from the retain, and are surrounded by a at the time flooded ditch. To the west the river operates close to the retain. The continues to be of a wall survive together the river bank, curving back to the north west corner of the retain. A gated harbour was manufactured in this article to provide safe different access to the castle. To the north, only an earth bank defends the retain, although the marshy tactic to this aspect would have discouraged attackers.
The island by itself addresses 8 hectares (twenty acres), although in the 15th century it is estimated to have been only a 3rd of this measurement. Having said that, the isle would have supported subsidiary buildings, this sort of as outlets and workshops, as properly as the castle. Access was by boat or via a ford at the south of the island. [Extract from Wikipedia]
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