Scheduled Monument

Cardoness CastleSM90058

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NX 59056 55287
259056, 555287


The monument comprises the remains of the tower house of Cardoness and associated buildings, surviving as substantial standing structures and as buried archaeology, together with an area enclosing the barmkin and outer defences. The monument was originally scheduled in 1928, but the surviving documentation does not meet modern standards: the current rescheduling rectifies this.

Cardoness Castle stands on a rocky eminence, the base of which until recently was awash at high tide, with commanding views over the Fleet Estuary. It was built by the McCullochs, important local lairds, towards the end of the 15th century. The now roofless main tower had six storeys of accommodation, stacked one on top of the other, which survive to a height of 16m, almost complete to just below wall-head and parapet level. In plan the tower measures 13m by 9.7m. The great hall was on the first floor, where the remains of a magnificent fireplace, with a fine aumbry and salt-box, can still be seen. The castle was built with artillery defence in mind, and provided with gun-holes of the inverted keyhole type. There is a general lack of windows and other openings, especially on the exposed N elevation, emphasising the strongly defensive purpose of this castle. The S elevation has more openings, facing on to and protected by the courtyard.

The courtyard comprised an inner, walled enclosure, with the tower forming the N side, and with a projecting range on each of the E and W sides. These both comprised a vaulted undercroft with a floor above, at the level of the tower entrance. This in turn was enclosed by an outer barmkin wall or earthwork, which ran around the edge of the hilltop, now very poorly preserved. Traces of building foundations can be seen within the outer enclosure, to E and S of the tower. The entrance through the outer enclosure may always have been on the E side, as it remains today.

Cardoness Castle was located in a key strategic position on the Solway coast, and yet the main threat was from feuds with neighbouring families. However, conflict with England brought the castle into prominence, sufficient to warrant a report being prepared in 1563-66 for Queen Elizabeth by an English spy, in advance of an invasion which never came. It remained in the hands of the McCulloch family until 1697, when Sir Godfrey McCulloch was executed in Edinburgh for the murder of Gordon of Bush o'Bield. The castle was abandoned soon afterwards. It came into care in 1927.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found. The area is irregular in plan with maximum dimensions of 98m NE-SW by 55m NW-SE, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The modern fences are excluded from the scheduling. The scheduled area is identical in extent to that of the area in guardianship.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Cardoness Castle

Find out more

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Cardoness Castle

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 03/10/2023 12:48