Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

Lochnaw CastleGDL00407

Status: Designated


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


Date Added
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Planning Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NW 99110 62687
199110, 562687

Lochnaw Castle designed landscape is of outstanding architectural interest as the setting for two category A listed buildings; Lochnaw Castle itself, and a walled garden associated with the important garden designer, John Hay. It has outstanding horticultural interest for its collection of heritage apple trees, which form part of the UK national collection, and has high nature conservation interest for the variety of habitats within the designed landscape.

Type of Site

A large estate landscape with a loch-side setting combining formal and informal landscape features around a modified, scheduled 16th century keep.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1700s; 1810-1830; 1850s; 2002-present day (2018).

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

Interest in this category derives from the appreciation evident in 19th century accounts of the designed landscape. For example, an account of the garden published in the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener (1890) praised Lady Agnew's flower garden, and the drives and walks through the grounds. Although the flower garden does not survive, the overall layout of the designed landscape reflect most of the 19th century improvements.


The walled garden is an important example of the work of the garden designer John Hay) although there is no evidence to indicate that the work at Lochnaw was particularly trend-setting. It followed after commissions at Prestonhall (1794), Dalhousie Castle (1806) and Camperdown House (GDL00082), and around the same time that he was active in the Edinburgh area, working on New Town Gardens, Edinburgh (GDL00367). Commissions at Newhailes (GDL00296) and Dalmeny (GDL00130) followed. Although his work is not particularly rare in a Scottish context, it did lead to descriptions of Hay by JC Loudon as 'the most eminent landscape architect Scotland has ever produced' (Loudon 1829: 451)


These factors give Lochnaw high value as a work of art.


Level of interest

There is a substantial body of contemporary documentary and physical evidence of the development of the landscape at Lochnaw in the form of extensive Agnew family archives and plans held by the National Records of Scotland (for example, see plans for the John Hay's design, NRS RHP3981; 3982; 3983). There is additional interest under this category given associations with the designer John Hay, who became renowned for his work on walled gardens, and in particular, in the development of glasshouses and their heating systems, thereby playing an important part in the improvement of horticulture in Scotland during the early 19th century (Wilson 2017).


Level of interest

At the time of this assessment (2018) Lochnaw walled garden contains an orchard of historic apple varieties planted in the early 21st century that, together with Brogdale, form part of the of the UK's National fruit collection. Lochnaw also has horticultural interest for the range of surviving specimen trees and groups of rhododendrons around the grounds. These include one monkey puzzle, Araucaria araucana which is recorded as a country champion for its height on the Tree Register of the British Isles (


Level of interest

The designed landscape is the setting for the category A-listed Lochnaw Castle. It also has a category A-listed walled garden which represents an outstanding example of John Hay's contribution to the development of walled gardens in Scotland. Hay's designs are renowned for their shape, for beautifully finished copings, arched doorways and decorative bell towers, and for the corner buildings or unusually shaped gazebos, as survives here. 


Level of interest

There is one scheduled monument, Old Lochnaw Castle (SM6232) on the isle of Lochnaw within the designed landscape. As such, the site merits outstanding value in this category.


Level of interest

The landscape surrounding Lochnaw is of a similar character to that contained within the estate: adjacent elements of shrub planting, woodland, pasture and open ground, blend so there is little scenic contrast between the two. Existing planting, foliage and undergrowth combine with gently undulating topography to screen most elements of the estate landscape. Some interest under this category derives primarily from external views into the landscape, across the loch towards Lochnaw Castle, and with reference to the prominent hill on which Kinsale Tower sits. 

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

Although there are no national natural heritage designations, the varied habitats contained within the designed landscape include mixed woodlands, garden grounds and an orchard in the walled garden, a loch, mature specimen trees and open pasture, which together provide diverse habitats for birds, invertebrates and other flora and fauna. On the basis of the large scale of this estate landscape, Lochnaw merits high value under this category.

Location and Setting

The designed landscape of Lochnaw Castle is located on the Rhinns of Galloway, approximately 7km northwest of Stranraer. The wider landscape is gently undulating, with a pattern of smooth hills and valleys offering views across the Galloway Peninsula and the Irish Sea.

Lochnaw Castle dominates a natural geological basin at the head of the wooded Aldouran Glen. The designed landscape is bounded in the north by the minor road (B7043) and Grachrie and Glenlochart woods; in the east by Clashnarroch and South Craighead woods; in the south by the policy woodland around Green Burn and Larbrax Lodge, and in the west by the minor road (B738).

The designed landscape as a whole extends to over 320 hectares (around 810 acres) around Lochnaw Loch, originally known as 'White Loch'. The ruined remains of Old Lochnaw Castle stand on an island within the loch and Lochnaw Castle is on the south shore, surrounded by terraced lawns and policy woodlands. A walled garden is situated beside Mill Side Burn, some 350m to the northwest of the castle.  The estate's sheltered position and west-coast location, with the tempering influence of the Gulf Stream, mean that the climate at Lochnaw is generally mild and beneficial for horticultural collections with tender or exotic species.

Site History

The present designed landscape of Lochnaw Castle dates mainly from the 18th to 19th centuries, with some early 21st century adaptations by the current owners. It is associated with the Agnew of Lochnaw family and in particular, the garden designer John Hay (1758-1836).

Prior to this, Lochnaw was a medieval estate centred on the island tower house of Old Lochnaw Castle, in the ownership of the Agnew family from around 1330 (Agnew 1864). Old Lochnaw Castle was sacked by the 3rd Earl of Douglas (also known as Black Douglas) in 1390. The estates of Lochnaw were then returned to Andrew Agnew (1st Sherriff of Wigtown) in 1426, and he set about building a castle on a new site south of the loch, complete with ditch, moat, gatehouse and drawbridge. The existing castle which occupies this site is believed to have been built during the late 16th century however it may contain earlier fabric from the 15th century. Ranges were added in 1663 by Sir Andrew Agnew and Dame Anna Stewart. At this time, Sir Andrew also levelled the moat and set about creating a garden (Agnew 1864; 356).

Historic maps provide evidence for the emerging designed landscape around Lochnaw Castle. The Blaeu maps of the 1650s and 1660s show a tract of woodland, while the more detailed Roy's Military Survey (1752-55) depicts regular tree-lined parks or fields, a large woodland block, and a walled garden enclosure immediately south of the castle (Blaeu 1654, Roy 1752-55). During the early 1700s, Sir James Agnew drained the loch to create a 'fine meadow and pasture ground' (Old Statistical Account 1792: 322) and re-used stone removed from Old Lochnaw Castle to further extend the castle ranges (Agnew 1864: 481). 

In 1809, Sir Andrew Agnew (7th Baronet), inherited Lochnaw in a state of decline and began a programme of improvements, creating the basis for the present designed landscape. He extended the castle with the addition of a mansion house (1819-21) designed by Archibald Elliot. He also restored the loch (1812-17), commissioned John Hay (1758-1836) to design a walled kitchen garden and flower garden (1812-15), and created an American Garden (1824). Improvements were also made to roads and paths, including the building of Larbrax Lodge in 1830 and the opening up of a new southern approach in 1832. Extensive woodland planting incorporated ornamental shrubs and trees such as rhododendron, hawthorn, laburnum and wild cherry around the edges of the plantations.

From 1849, the 8th Baronet continued work on the designed landscape, including terracing of the moat, and scarped land around the castle. His wife, Lady Louisa Agnew, created a flower garden in the low-lying land to the west of the mansion house. There was further extensive tree planting around the estate, including an avenue of monkey puzzle trees lining the principal drive from Half Mark Lodge (1858), and, in 1849, the addition of the 'Gainsborough Walk', skirting the northern edge of Craighead Wood. 

The later 19th and early 20th centuries appear to have been a period of consolidation of the landscape with some woodland clearing and replanting, changes to shrubberies and flower beds, renewal of glasshouses (around 1899) and widening of the main drive (1912). By the time of the First World War, records indicate that the gardening staff at Lochnaw had dropped in number from seven to three by 1915, when the vineries closed and most of the walled garden was put down to grass. During the Second World War, Lochnaw Castle was used as an RAF hospital. Having already sold most of the wider Lochnaw estate, the Agnew family sold Lochnaw Castle and its surrounding grounds in 1947. The 1704 range and the 19th century mansion house were demolished around 1953.

The estate then changed hands a number of times until it was acquired by the current owners in 1999. They set about restoring the castle and the designed landscape, including the creation of a garden within the remaining walls of the former 19th century mansion house. At the time of this assessment (2018), the owners have plans to develop a sunken garden on the site of Lady Louisa Agnew's flower garden.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

The visible remains of the island tower house of Old Lochnaw Castle (SM6232) comprise a surviving fragment of the tower's north wall, probably dating to around the 14th century, although documentary sources record a tradition of an earlier castle on the site (Agnew 1864). A low enclosing wall beyond the tower relates to the 18th-century drainage and landscaping works to the loch. 

Lochnaw Castle on the loch's south shore is a square 16th century tower house (LB14398) at the southeast corner of a courtyard, surrounded by an L-plan range of buildings, mostly of 17th century date. The surviving walls of the mansion demolished in 1953 have been incorporated into a kitchen garden (2005). Ancillary buildings close to the castle include a boathouse (LB13496) probably built around 1900, stable courtyard, of rubble construction with slate roofing, and Home Farm, built around 1853-4 of stone with a whitewash finish.

A polygonal walled garden (LB13505) built of rubble with red sandstone coping, stands around 350m to the northwest of the castle, beside Mill Isle Burn. A semi-circular gazebo is set into the southeast corner. The walled garden and a nearby bridge (LB13497) over the Mill Isle Burn are surviving features of the John Hay design of 1812-15. A curving wall extends to the east enclosing an area north of the burn which Hay intended for a flower garden. Immediately to the south of the walled garden, Garden House (LB13499) is a two-storey white-harled house with crow-stepped gables.

Kinsale Tower (LB13501) occupies the summit of Craighead Hill. Built in 1820 by Lord Kinsale for his daughter Martha de Courcy (who married Andrew Agnew in 1792), it may have been a look-out tower or a family monument that offered views over the Irish Sea towards their homeland. A granite monument to Lady Louisa Agnew stands within woodland planting to the west of the castle (See LB14398).

Lodge-houses marking the entrances to the estate include Noel Lodge (LB13503), named Half Mark Lodge on the Ordnance Survey Second Edition (1907); Kathleen Cottage (LB13500) of early-mid 19th century date and marked on the Ordnance Survey Second Edition map as Garchrie Lodge; and Larbrax Lodge (LB13502), built sometime after 1847.

Drives & Approaches

Historic maps show that the main approaches to the castle were in place by the later 19th century (Ordnance Survey, 1896). The main drive is from the east, starting at Half Mark Lodge and approaching the castle along the banks of the loch. A surviving sketch plan indicates that plans for a route from Half Mark Gate had begun in 1790 (National Archives of Scotland RHP6488). A key feature of this approach in the present landscape is the monkey puzzle avenue lining the drive, visible from many points around the estate.

A short drive connects North Lodge (named Old Lodge on the Ordnance Survey Second edition map (1894) with the main approach road. A long drive from the south from Larbrax Lodge was added after this lodge was built in 1830 and is lined in part with hawthorn hedges, sycamore and beech trees. Fuchsias, rhododendrons and box provide further ornamentation. The access to Home Farm was built in 1853/4 and this runs north from the farm to the B7043, skirting the edge of Drummullin Wood.

Paths & Walks

A winding network of woodland and loch-side paths is shown on maps of the estate during the 19th century (Ordnance Survey 1896). At the time of the assessment (2018), around 5km of woodland and loch-side paths have been restored, including a track to Kinsale tower.


Extensive policy woodlands surround the loch and the castle. The pattern of these plantations is generally consistent with that shown on historic mapping (Ordnance Survey 1896). The mixed woodland between the old flower garden and the walled garden mainly comprises sycamore, beech and horse chestnut. The tree plantings around the loch are a mixture of alder, Scots pine, sycamore, birch, ash and beech. A few specimen cypress and firs remain, and this includes the first estate monkey puzzle, Araucaria araucana, planted in 1849. However, the assessment by Historic Scotland in 2006 concluded that these are likely to represent a very small proportion of the original planting scheme, with many trees lost due to historic storm damage. Conservation work around 2017 has cleared large accumulations of invasive Rhododendron ponticum, and restored loch-side habitats, encouraging regeneration of white water lilies. Bistort, bog bean and flag iris flourish around the margins of the loch (2018).

The Gardens

The wall footings of the demolished mansion house have been used (2005) to create a garden incorporating features of the earlier building, including a fireplace, staircase and ramparts. There are three stepped grass terraces to the west side of the castle. At the edge of one of the terraces, a row of six clipped Irish yew trees mark the way to the former site of Lady Agnew's flower garden, approached by stone steps. At the time of this assessment (2018), the site had been recently cleared of woodland plants and re-seeded with grass in preparation for a new sunken garden inspired by the history of the estate. Otherwise, the gardens around the castle comprise mowed lawns, groups of established rhododendrons, and a gnarled wych elm on the bank between the castle and the boathouse. There are also remnant flowering shrubs, such as fuchsias, around the buildings and along the old walk skirting Craighead Park and Plantation, and holly trees along the drives connecting the walled garden with the stables and the old south drive.

Walled Gardens

A polygonal walled garden is located to the northwest of the castle where it benefited from a sheltered, south-facing site with an abundant supply of water from the Mill Side Burn. It incorporates characteristic features of John Hay's work including a circular gazebo at one angle, red-sandstone flat coping, and both round and segmental-arched openings in the walls.

In 2006, the walled garden was under grass but the four quadrants, re-defined by conjoining paths, have since been repurposed for fruit-growing. Lochnaw is part of the national fruit collection for apples, working in conjunction with Brogdale ( At the time of this assessment (2018), fruit shrubs and woodland trees grow in the area of the former flower garden between the south wall of the garden and the Mill House Burn. 



Canmore: ID 232543; 60402


Blaeu, J. (1654) Gallovidia, vernacule Galloway

Roy's Military Survey of Scotland, (1747-55), Lowlands. Available at

Ainslie J, (1782), Map of the County of Wigtown

Ordnance Survey (1849), Wigtonshire (sheet 9) 6 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1896), Wigtonshire (sheet X. SE) 6 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1896), Wigtonshire (sheet XI. SW) 6 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1909), Wigtonshire (sheet X. SE) 6 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1909), Wigtonshire (sheet XI. SW) 6 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1894), Wigtonshire (sheet X.9) 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1894), Wigtonshire (sheet X.12) 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1894), Wigtonshire (sheet X.16) 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1908), Wigtonshire (sheet X.9) 25 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1908), Wigtonshire (sheet X.12) 25 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey (1908), Wigtonshire (sheet X.16) 25 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey

National Records of Scotland: Plan of a kitchen and flower garden which may be executed on a spot pointed out at Lochnaw, belonging to Sir Andrew Agnew: 1812. RHP3981

National Records of Scotland: Plan of a garden which may be executed at Lochnaw, the seat of Sir Andrew Agnew: 1811. RHP3982

Architectural drawings of the hothouses in the new garden at Lochnaw Castle, Leswalt, Wigtownshire. 1815. RHP3983

Printed sources

Agnew, A. (1864) The Agnews of Lochnaw, a history of the hereditary sheriffs of Galloway, with contemporary anecdotes, traditions, and genealogical notices of old families of the sheriffdom 1330 to 1747. Copy available at

Journals of Sir Andrew Noel Agnew (estate records).

Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, article 4 December, 1890

Kinland Design, November 2017, Lochnaw Castle, Wigtownshire, re-imagining a lost landscape, the sunken garden project.

Loudon, J C, 1829, The Gardner's Magazine. London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green.

The Old Statistical Account, Leswalt, County of Wigton, Vol. III, 1792

Wilson, P. (2017) John Hay 1758-1836 : '...the most eminent horticultural architect Scotland ever produced.' (J. C. Loudon). Masters thesis, University of London. Copy available at

Online sources

Brogdale (, [accessed 2018]

Plant Heritage (, [accessed 2018]

The Tree Register of the British Isles, Champion Trees Database, [accessed 2018]

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

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.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

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View looking southwest across the Lochnaw Castle walled garden interior and estate cottage beyond, dark green line of trees to background, green orchard rows to foreground.
View looking southwest to Lochnaw Castle, to right, and stepped lawns, to foreground and left, on a cloudy day, with grey sky.
View within the walled garden to a circular gazebo, with borders and paths.
View looking southwest along one of the tree-lined estate drives, with small patch of daylight to centre of photo.
Looking up towards Kinsale Tower, on a cloudy day.

Printed: 01/12/2022 15:57