Torwood Castle

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Torwood Castle is an L-shaped mid 16th century tower house built in the vicinity of an earlier 13th century castle, where Robert the Bruce and his arch rival John Comyn would meet as joint guardians of Scotland. This later castle is furnished with with defensive shot-holes to reflect the military technology of its time.

The roofless castle is three storeys tall and comprises a vaulted ground floor, a first floor and an attic. The short wing housed the staircase and has gables at its north and south ends. It had a cobbled courtyard enclosed by three ranges of buildings, although little remains of them. Two rooms of the north range were excavated in 1999, revealing a kitchen and a well room.

This is not a 'Douglas castle', but does feature in our history.

The castle is located at the end of a long track from the main road, where with consideration you can park. There is a woodland track that that you to nearby Tappoch Broch which is also well worth exploring.

The estate was held originally by the Foresters of Garden, who were the foresters responsible for the nearby Royal Forest of Tor Wood from the second half of the 15th century until the mid-17th century. Based on the date found on a carved stone panel found not far from the castle in 1918, the castle has been estimated as being built around 1566 for Sir Alexander Forrester. It passed to Clan Baillie in the early 16th century and then to George, 1st Lord Forrester in 1635.


1314 ~ Tor Wood is used as camp and gathering place for Scottish soldiers led by James Douglas, one of the commanders of the army of King Robert the Bruce, before the Battle of Bannockburn.
1463 ~ Clan Forrester are made the hereditary keepers of the Royal Forest of Tor Wood by King James III of Scotland.
1480 ~ Sir Duncan Forrester is awarded the important position of Keeper of nearby Stirling Castle.
1566 ~ Alexander Forrester, keepers of Tor Wood for royal hunting; the provision of timber for the King; builds himself an L-plan tower house.
1585 ~ The Earls of Angus and Mar capture the castle as they prepare to take Stirling Castle
1635 ~ The estates pass to Lord Forrester of Corstorphine, who reconstructs the rectangular forecourt of ancillary buildings on the north side of the castle.
1650's ~ The next owner is James Baillie of Castlecary who marries Lord Forrester's third daughter and so inherits both castle and title. However, he is obliged to sell off the estate by Oliver Cromwell to meet his enforced debts, due to his family's support for the Royalist cause. James had been fined £2,500 by Cromwell, whose troops had caused significant damage to his estate.
1660's ~ With Torwood still in his possession, James's financial situation is dire, and he is recorded as having become a depressed alcoholic.
1679 ~ James refuses to return from his heavy drinking spree for a meeting and is stabbed to death with his own sword by his niece after a quarrel over the matter. This tragedy being a crime of passion since he had previously seduced his niece.
1698 ~ James's nephew William is forced to sell Torwood Castle due to the family's massive debts.
1748 ~ The Torwood estate is sold to the Dundas family.
1817 ~ The castle is recorded as 'in ruins'.

In the late 20th century, the Torwood Castle Charitable Trust was established "to preserve and conserve for the benefit of the public generally and of students of architecture, history, archaeology and art, in particular the ruinous buildings of what was Torwood Castle; b) to advance the education of the public about the history and culture of the Castle and the persons who inhabited it and its environs throughout the centuries".



Sources for this article include:
  • Fred Vincent - Castle Finders

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    Last modified: Thursday, 22 February 2024