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Barholm Castle, Galloway

OCCUPYING a lofty situation above that picturesque coast road which runs from Gatehouse to Newton Stewart, and commanding extensive views over Wigtown Bay, this L-shaped tower, dating from the late 16th or early 17th century, is now unfortunately in a ruinous condition. It follows the plan, so common in Galloway, of an oblong parapeted tower, to which has been attached a small but higher wing containing the stair, the upper portion of which acts as a cap-house and is reached by a little turret stair projecting in the re-entrant angle.

The main block, which lies East and West, was three storeys and a garret in height, parapets crowning the North and South sides only. The upper portion of the stair-tower is offset slightly on individual corbels and contains a small vaulted chamber.

The windows are moulded on jambs and lintels, the two stair-case windows being particularly elaborate. The arched doorway, which lies in the re-entrant angle, also calls for special notice, it being enriched by a cable moulding, the lower ends of which are fashioned to represent knots, and the apex of the archway being crowned by a grotesque stone animal flanked by two masks.

The ground floor contains a vaulted chamber lit only by two small windows on the South side. The main stair is a roomy turnpike and rises to parapet-level. On the first floor is the Hall, which has four windows, and a wide hooded fireplace in the South wall. The flooring of the upper storeys has fallen in, but each floor apparently contained two chambers, both second-floor rooms being provided with a garderobe. The building is not in a good condition and is much overgrown with ivy.

Barholm was a seat of the family of M’Culloch, who acquired the lands in the early 16th century. Major John M’Culloch of Barholm, a noted Covenanter, was executed for his share in the Pentland Rising in 1666. This family retained possession till the early 19th century.

Source: The Fortalices and Early Mansions of Southern Scotland 1400 to 1650. Tranter, Nigel. Published by The Moray Press, Edinburgh & London (1935)

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