Ancient Monuments

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Isle Tower, 400m NNE of Bankend

A Scheduled Monument in Nith, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.0053 / 55°0'18"N

Longitude: -3.5212 / 3°31'16"W

OS Eastings: 302805

OS Northings: 568914

OS Grid: NY028689

Mapcode National: GBR 3BVK.GK

Mapcode Global: WH5WY.WGF7

Entry Name: Isle Tower, 400m NNE of Bankend

Scheduled Date: 28 October 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10429

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Caerlaverock

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Nith

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises Isle Tower, also known as Lochar or Bankend Tower, which is of medieval date, visible as an upstanding ruin. The monument is situated on the W bank of the Lochar Water at about 5m OD.

The Lochar Water protected the tower on three sides and a channel formed the SW defence. It is located at the S extremity of the Lochar Moss, a marsh, at which point a ford crossed the river. It therefore guarded both the E approach to Caerlaverock Castle and a major route into Dumfries from the S.

The tower was built some time between c.1563 and 1568, at which time William Maxwell 'of the Ile' was resident. Lord Scrope burned the tower in 1570 but sources thereafter refer to William's successor Edward 'of the Yle'. It is depicted on the Pont map as 'Yl of Locchyir' in c.1595-96.

Evidence suggests that the building was originally rectangular in plan, comprising three storeys and a garret with a parapet walk. The walls are relatively narrow (1.1m) and the ground floor is not vaulted. This most probably reflects the fact that the tower's foundations were on marshy ground and therefore the loads had to be reduced. Large joist holes in the walls suggest that the floors were supported on massive beams, with those of the second floor aligned perpendicularly to the others to help distribute weight. Gun loops were provided at both ground and second floor levels; the latter allowed firing over the barmkin wall as a primary line of defence (as at Hoddom Castle, its likely progenitor).

The stair wing was added to its NE side in 1622, forming a T-plan, which obliterated the original entrance. At this time a new attic floor was added which replaced the wall-walk and garret. The new entrance was situated at the N re-entrant angle, above which an armorial panel was inserted, which opened into the broad wheelstair. It provided access to the first and second floors; presumably the upper flight of the original wooden stair led to the third floor. The entrance into the ground floor was unusually broad at c.2.4m wide. Evidence survives of a dormer at third floor level.

Isle Tower appears to have been abandoned soon after the death of the 2nd Earl of Nithsdale in 1667. The majority of the SW end of the tower had collapsed by the end of the 19th century and the stair wing fell in 1969. The N half still stands to a height of c.8-9m. The NW angle survives to c.2m high but has shifted considerably due to subsidence.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be found. It is irregular in plan with maximum dimensions of 290m NNW-SSE and 113m W-E, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The N, E and SE sides are bounded by the Lochar Water and a modern drainage ditch bounds the W side of the area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland


No Bibliography entries for this designation

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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