Barholm Castle

Barholm Castle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Barholm Castle

A white-limewashed tower-house in S Dumfries and Galloway, Barholm Castle overlooks Wigtown Bay, 5 miles (8 km) west southwest of Gatehouse of Fleet and 5½ miles (9 km) east southeast of Wigtown. This L-plan tower comprises a main block which rises to three storeys, with a garret and vaulted basement, and a smaller stair-tower which rises a storey higher and features an unusual double-height corbelled-out cap-house. It shows many features which are typical of similar buildings in the SW Scotland. Barholm was probably constructed in the early 16th century, a charter having been signed here in 1541. The castle was recorded by Timothy Pont in the 1580s. The upper section of the stair-tower was most-likely added a century later.

The property of the McCulloch family, who were staunch Presbyterians, church reformer John Knox (1514-72) stayed here briefly probably in 1556 while heading for exile in Europe. The McCullochs feuded with their Catholic neighbours, the Browns of Carsluith, and in 1579 John Brown was charged with the murder of McCulloch of Barholm. In the 17th century, the family supported the Covenanting cause and Major John McCulloch of Barholm was executed for his part in the Pentland Rising and the Battle of Rullion Green (1666).

Having been replaced by a classical mansion, also called Barholm, built by Robert Adam (1728-92) near Creetown in 1788 - itself demolished in the 1950s - the old castle fell into ruin. However, with the support of Historic Scotland, this Category-A listed property was restored as a private residence between 2003 and 2006. A full archaeological and structural survey undertaken at this time brought a greater knowledge of the castle. The vaulted basement has been converted into a kitchen and the Great Hall above, with its hooded fireplace has been restored, with a new painted ceiling.

Nigel Tranter suggested that Barholm was the fictional Ellangowan, in the novel Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832).

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