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Cardoness Castle, Galloway


CARDONESS is a massive well-built tower of probably i 5th-century con¬struction, occupying the summit of a rocky mound on the right bank of the Water of Fleet about a mile-and-a-half S.W. of Gatehouse. The castle, which has been provided with a small courtyard to South and West, is rect-angular on plan, measuring 43 feet by 32 feet. The walls are solidly built of rubble and average 8 feet in thickness, there being four main storeys beneath the parapet, the attic storey above now being ruinous. The doorway lies in the South wall and admits to a mural lobby which leads, on the right, to the foot of the wheel-stair which rises in the S.E. angle, and on the left to a mural guard-chamber.

The basement, which is vaulted and has contained an intermediate or entresol floor, consists of two apartments, each reached from doors in the entrance lobby.

The chamber to the West is the larger and at the N.W. and S.W. angles are unusual circular recesses opening a few feet above floor-level. What these were for it is hard to say.

The entresol floor has been reached from the main stair, and at this level in the South and East walls are mural chambers opening from the stair. The chamber to the East gives access by a trap in the floor to a gloomy prison directly below, a favourite arrangement in 15th-century towers. In the floor of the South mural chamber another trap-door com¬municates with the entrance passage below.

The first floor, as usual, contains the Hall, a large apartment with most of the windows placed high in the walls to leave space for numerous mural chambers. Two of the windows, however, open at the normal level, and these are provided with stone seats. There is a wide fireplace in the North wall with an aumbry at either side, that to the West being moulded and having an ogee head. There are no fewer than five wall-chambers opening from the Hall. The second floor contains two apartments, reached by a flight of straight steps from the main stair. The chamber to the West has a large handsome fireplace, an aumbry and a window with seats, while the Eastern room is similarly provided, but also has a mural chamber, with drain, in the N.E. angle. The floor above is very similar, having also con¬tained two chambers.

The upper storey is now in a ruinous condition, but the walls have been crowned by the usual parapet and walk. This interesting building, which is very similar in style to the near-by castle of Rusco, is now, fortunately, in the care of H.M. Office of Works.

Cardoness was long the stronghold of the powerful Galloway family of M’Culloch, passing later to the Gordons and. Maxwells.

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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