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Lochmaben Peel and Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1153 / 55°6'55"N

Longitude: -3.4298 / 3°25'47"W

OS Eastings: 308895

OS Northings: 581037

OS Grid: NY088810

Mapcode National: GBR 49H9.73

Mapcode Global: WH6XK.8PZC

Entry Name: Lochmaben Peel and Castle

Scheduled Date: 30 April 1937

Last Amended: 26 February 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90205

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Lochmaben

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of the 13th-century peel and 14th-century stone castle at Castle Loch, Lochmaben, surviving as earthworks, substantial stone structures and buried archaeology, together with an area defined by the outer defences. The monument was originally scheduled in 1937 but is being re-scheduled now as no adequate documentation can be traced from the time of the original scheduling.

Lochmaben Castle is situated on a promontory projecting into the S end of Castle Loch, Lochmaben. The promontory is cut off to the S by an outer ditch, running from the loch in the W to the Valison Burn in the E. At its heart, the castle sits on a trapezoidal platform forming the inner ward, now containing the upstanding remains of the later stone castle.

Ditches and palisades originally surrounded it and the outer ward, which lies immediately to the S. Both wards contained timber buildings erected to provide a secure base for the army of Edward I. The inner ward was only accessible to the castle garrison and contained a great tower, originally built of timber, but later replaced in stone. The outer ward contained additional accommodation and workshops and may have housed the ?Pale Toun?.

Access to the castle was from the S, and traces of a gate and outer barbican can still be seen through the S defences of the outer ward, lying just to the W of the present track. An outer enclosure, consisting of parkland and possibly part of the ?Pale Toun?, lies within the most southerly ditch. The function of the peel was to accommodate and support a campaigning army of invasion.

Work started on Edward I?s Peel of Lochmaben before Christmas 1298, when Robert de Cantalope was appointed Keeper. It was built to replace the motte and bailey castle that the English had recently captured from the Bruce family, 500m NW of the peel. Forty-eight labourers and twelve skilled craftsmen from Cumberland started work: and by summer of the next year the buildings were sufficiently advanced to withstand a five-day siege by the Earl of Carrick. The design was probably the brain-child of Master James of St George, who was responsible for a number of important military works for Edward I.

Minor excavations in the peel in the 1960s revealed that the original surface of the first peel was buried more than 2m beneath later levelling and construction debris. The first documentary evidence for stone buildings in the castle is in 1364, but since this refers to repairs it is safe to assume that the rebuilding of the castle in stone was well underway by then. It may have begun as early as 1301, as a response to a further attack, this time by 7,000 Scots under John de Soules, who ?burnt our Pele Toun and Pele?.

The stone castle was built on the inner ward of the peel. This comprised an impressive curtain wall castle, with an impressive frontal gateway, flanked to either side by unusual projecting wing-walls. Each of the latter had a basal arch over the wet moat, the purpose of which may have been to allow boats to arrive at the front entrance.

The importance of Lochmaben can perhaps be measured by the effort the English made to keep possession of it through the 14th century. For much of that time it remained an outpost in hostile territory with all the attendant problems of provisioning a considerable garrison under such circumstances. Despite that effort, Lochmaben eventually fell into the hands of the Earl of Douglas in 1384.

Lochmaben became a royal possession, and James IV is credited with major works to rebuild the great hall. Once it was abandoned, the castle buildings were allowed to decay and finally became a quarry supplying stone for the town. There is evidence of considerable stone replacement and refacing on both sides of the front curtain wall, likely to date to the end of the 19th century.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expec...

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the best-preserved, and earliest, example of the peels built in Scotland by Edward I. The remains of the impressive curtain wall castle are also of national importance. The archaeology of the peel has the potential to provide important information regarding the development of the site within the context of its function in supporting the army of invasion.

Furthermore the site has the potential to produce evidence related to the development and functioning of the later stone castle, which continued to act as a pivotal point of strategic defence within the Middle March. The national importance is reflected in the status of the peel and castle as a Property In Care.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NY08SE8.



Macdonald A D S and Laing L R (1977) ?Excavations at Lochmaben Castle, Dumfriesshire?, PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 106, 124-57.


RCAHMS (1997) EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh: HMSO, 3, 199, 200, 201, 203-6, 219, 237, 311, No. 1266.
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Lochmaben Castle
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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