Cardoness Castle

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Cardoness Castle
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Location Information
Name Cardoness Castle
Owner Historic Scotland
NGR NX 59059 55274
Lon. & Lat. 54.872402,-4.198180
Council Dumfries and Galloway
Parish Anwoth
Nearby Castles Rusko
Year built 15th C.
Overview map
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Cardoness Castle was built by the McCulloch family, probably some time in the 1470s. They had acquired the estate when one of the family married the youngest daughter of the previous landowner. Legend has it that she was the sole survivor of a tragedy in which her eight elder sisters, her father and her new-born brother drowned in a frozen lake during a celebration of the birth of the infant.

The McCullochs' approach to life meant that strong defenses against their neighbors could sometimes come in handy. James McCulloch, who died in 1500, was involved in litigation over land five times, and got embroiled in another dispute when he married his daughter to a man regarded as a "natural idiot" to gain control of additional lands.

James' son Ninian was tried for theft of property from his widowed mother, while Sir Alexander McCulloch, who met his end at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, was convicted twice for violence against neighbors.

The laird from 1516 was another Alexander McCulloch. He is remembered as the "Cutlar McCulloch" who in 1530 led a raid on the Isle of Man in revenge for an attack by the Manx on Galloway. This proved highly lucrative and McCulloch returned to plunder the Isle of Man several more times.

But the local disputes continued to drain family resources and in the early 1600s the estate was mortgaged, eventually being lost completely to John Gordon in 1628, head of a family the McCullochs had long feuded with. But the McCullochs didn't give up easily. In 1668 Alexander McCulloch dragged John Gordon's ailing widow out of her house and threw her onto a dung heap. And in 1690 Sir Godfrey McCulloch shot dead William Gordon, John's son. Sir Godfrey escaped to France, but was spotted in Edinburgh in 1697 and beheaded on the Maiden, the Scottish equivalent of the guillotine.

Cardoness Castle was abandoned after Sir Godfrey's death. It passed through the hands of a number of owners before being placed in State care in 1927. Today it is cared for by Historic Scotland.


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