Scheduled Monument

Lochmaben Peel and CastleSM90205

Status: Designated


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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; earthwork
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NY 08895 81037
308895, 581037


The monument comprises the remains of the 13th-century peel and 14th-century stone castle at Castle Loch, Lochmaben, surviving as earthworks, substantial stone structures and buried archaeology, together with an area defined by the outer defences. The monument was originally scheduled in 1937 but is being re-scheduled now as no adequate documentation can be traced from the time of the original scheduling.

Lochmaben Castle is situated on a promontory projecting into the S end of Castle Loch, Lochmaben. The promontory is cut off to the S by an outer ditch, running from the loch in the W to the Valison Burn in the E. At its heart, the castle sits on a trapezoidal platform forming the inner ward, now containing the upstanding remains of the later stone castle.

Ditches and palisades originally surrounded it and the outer ward, which lies immediately to the S. Both wards contained timber buildings erected to provide a secure base for the army of Edward I. The inner ward was only accessible to the castle garrison and contained a great tower, originally built of timber, but later replaced in stone. The outer ward contained additional accommodation and workshops and may have housed the ?Pale Toun?.

Access to the castle was from the S, and traces of a gate and outer barbican can still be seen through the S defences of the outer ward, lying just to the W of the present track. An outer enclosure, consisting of parkland and possibly part of the ?Pale Toun?, lies within the most southerly ditch. The function of the peel was to accommodate and support a campaigning army of invasion.

Work started on Edward I?s Peel of Lochmaben before Christmas 1298, when Robert de Cantalope was appointed Keeper. It was built to replace the motte and bailey castle that the English had recently captured from the Bruce family, 500m NW of the peel. Forty-eight labourers and twelve skilled craftsmen from Cumberland started work: and by summer of the next year the buildings were sufficiently advanced to withstand a five-day siege by the Earl of Carrick. The design was probably the brain-child of Master James of St George, who was responsible for a number of important military works for Edward I.

Minor excavations in the peel in the 1960s revealed that the original surface of the first peel was buried more than 2m beneath later levelling and construction debris. The first documentary evidence for stone buildings in the castle is in 1364, but since this refers to repairs it is safe to assume that the rebuilding of the castle in stone was well underway by then. It may have begun as early as 1301, as a response to a further attack, this time by 7,000 Scots under John de Soules, who ?burnt our Pele Toun and Pele?.

The stone castle was built on the inner ward of the peel. This comprised an impressive curtain wall castle, with an impressive frontal gateway, flanked to either side by unusual projecting wing-walls. Each of the latter had a basal arch over the wet moat, the purpose of which may have been to allow boats to arrive at the front entrance.

The importance of Lochmaben can perhaps be measured by the effort the English made to keep possession of it through the 14th century. For much of that time it remained an outpost in hostile territory with all the attendant problems of provisioning a considerable garrison under such circumstances. Despite that effort, Lochmaben eventually fell into the hands of the Earl of Douglas in 1384.

Lochmaben became a royal possession, and James IV is credited with major works to rebuild the great hall. Once it was abandoned, the castle buildings were allowed to decay and finally became a quarry supplying stone for the town. There is evidence of considerable stone replacement and refacing on both sides of the front curtain wall, likely to date to the end of the 19th century.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expec...

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the best-preserved, and earliest, example of the peels built in Scotland by Edward I. The remains of the impressive curtain wall castle are also of national importance. The archaeology of the peel has the potential to provide important information regarding the development of the site within the context of its function in supporting the army of invasion.

Furthermore the site has the potential to produce evidence related to the development and functioning of the later stone castle, which continued to act as a pivotal point of strategic defence within the Middle March. The national importance is reflected in the status of the peel and castle as a Property In Care.



RCAHMS records the monument as NY08SE8.



Macdonald A D S and Laing L R (1977) ?Excavations at Lochmaben Castle, Dumfriesshire?, PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 106, 124-57.


RCAHMS (1997) EASTERN DUMFRIESSHIRE: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh: HMSO, 3, 199, 200, 201, 203-6, 219, 237, 311, No. 1266.

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Lochmaben Castle

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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.

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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).

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Printed: 26/05/2024 23:22