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Kenmure

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Kenmure
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Location Information
Name Kenmure
Owner ruins
NGR NX 63535 76391
Lon. & Lat. 55.063427,-4.138462
Council Dumfries and Galloway
Parish Kells
Nearby Castles Earlstoun, Lochinvar, Dundeugh, Threave
Year built 16th c.
Overview map
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Kenmure Castle lies a mile to the south of the village of New Galloway, Scotland’s smallest Royal Burgh and to the north of Loch Ken. The oldest part of Kenmure Castle dates from the 16th Century and was the seat of the West March Gordons of Lochinvar. The seat of the Laird (Baron, later Viscount) of Lochinvar was at Kenmure (Kenmuir) Castle near New Galloway, the site being occupied from late in the 11th Century until 1900. The real 'Young Lochinvar' of Sir Walter Scott's famous poem was said to be the Laird of Lochinvar, William de Gordon of Kenmure. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support the story. Sir William Gordon of Lochinvar was laird of Lochinvar and Kenmure, his eldest son being John of Lochinvar, whos mother was known as joan stewart the dumb lady. William may have died in 1455, having passed a charter of lands (a will) to his family in 1450. The Gordons of Kenmure were a cadet branch of the Aberdeenshire family, possibly descended from the 14th century Sir Adam Gordon. They became the most powerful family in the GlenKens (Valley of Loch Ken and the River Dee).

John Balliol may have been born in Kenmure and used the place as a headquarters. After a visit there by Mary, Queen of Scots, the castle was burned. It later suffered the same fate at the hands of Cromwell. The Sixth Viscount Kenmure was beheaded in the Tower of London as a result of his Jacobite allegiances. The castle was visited by Robert Burns who wrote the Jacobite song “Kenmure’s up and awa’, Willie”.

Sadly, the lairdship was declared dormant in 1847, the McEwan family then owning the estate. The contents of Kenmure Castle were sold on the American market, in 1900. The Castle was later de-roofed to avoid paying 'roof tax'. The Ewart Library in Katherine Street, Dumfries, holds some documents; the only other local evidence of the vanished Gordons of Lochinvar. The documents span the period from 1507 to 1858, - sadly, long after the period of William Gordon.

The ruins of Kenmure Castle stand amongst trees on a wooded hillock about a mile south of New Galloway, a bare 5 miles from the Lochinvar Hotel at the north end of Loch Ken. The position would have been naturally suitable for a motte-and-bailey fortress of the mid 1000s, later offering good foundations and a commanding position for several rebuilding in stone.

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