Caerlaverock Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Caerlaverock Castle

Dumfries, Scotland, United Kingdom

Set in truly jaw-dropping Scottish countryside, Caerlaverock Castle was an important fortification, providing defence for the Scottish crown in a period of deep rooted rivalry with England.

Lily Johnson

26 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is an impressive medieval fortress in Scotland, which stands out for its unique triangular design and picturesque location, ensuring it ranks among the country’s most remarkable castles.

Caerlaverock Castle history

First built in the late-13th century on the site of previous fortifications, Caerlaverock Castle has a long and fascinating history and still bares the wounds of many of its battles.

Standing strong on the Scottish border, the castle is in many ways a symbol of the divisions that for so many years tore England and Scotland apart. Due to its strategic location, Caerlaverock was often central to the on-going rivalry and warfare which took place between the two crowns.

In the early 14th century, once such conflict took place when Caerlaverock Castle was besieged and captured by the English King Edward I, as he led his armies against Scotland. Despite holding off an initial assault, the small Scottish garrison could do little once Edward turned his siege machines against the fortress, and it was captured within two days.

In the 17th century Caerlaverock was home to Robert Maxwell, the 1st Earl of Nithsdale, who remodelled the structure and based the living quarters on Linlithgow Palace. However, Caerlaverock retained its military significance and was the scene of a major siege in 1640 by a Protestant Covenanter army, which damaged the castle’s exterior and left it partially ruined.

The southern wall was largely destroyed in this siege but this damage does little to take away from the imposing might of the castle’s iconic and unique triangular structure.

Caerlaverock Castle today

Today Caerlaverock Castle stands in the centre of picturesque countryside classed as a ‘National Scenic Area’, meaning it is protected and celebrated for its natural beauty.

The imposing moat, once a fearsome deterrent to attackers and important strategic tool against their enemies, is now a highlight for visitors and a stunning site all year round – reflecting the glistening sunlight in summer or laced with ice and snow during the winter months.

A trip to Caerlaverock Castle itself offers a lesson in siege warfare and there are many interesting reconstructions of medieval siege engines; exciting educational tools that instantly transport visitors to the battlefield. For families, there’s even a castle-themed adventure park to provide extra entertainment for children, ensuring there always lots to see and do at Caerlaverock!

Getting to Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is located in Dumfries, Scotland off the B725, and parking is available at the site. The nearest train station is Dumfries, 8 miles away, from which the 6A bus may be taken to Castle Rd End, a 7-minute walk to the site.

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