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Morton Castle

The remains of a former Douglas stronghold in Nithsdale, Dumfries and Galloway, Morton Castle occupies a splendid location on a small headland overlooking Morton Loch, 1½ miles (2.5 km) northeast of Carronbridge and 2½ miles (4 km) north northeast of Thornhill.

Dunegal, Lord of Nithsdale, was said to have a stronghold here in the 12th century. A castle was certainly built here in the 13th Century, with evidence for its existence coming in 1307 when the lands of Morton were held by Thomas Randolph, later the first Earl of Moray. However, this was dismantled under the terms of the Treaty of Berwick between England and Scotland in 1357. Rebuilt in the mid-15th century as a large hall-type castle for the Earls of March, it soon passed to the Douglas Earls of Morton. Its triangular structure is somewhat similar to Caerlaverock, located 21 miles (34 km) to the south southeast. Morton Castle was sacked by King James VI in his campaign against the Douglases in 1588.

Part of the structure remained occupied until the start of the 18th century, but it subsequently lay empty and is now thoroughly ruined, having been quarried for stone. Parts of two of its towers still stand, with walls of up to 8m (26 feet) in height. It was stabilised and subject to archaeological investigation in the 1890s. The castle provided a location in the 1978 film of John Buchan's novel The Thirty Nine Steps. It is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland on behalf of the owner, the Duke of Buccleuch.


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