Skip to main content

‹‹‹ prev (59) Page 539Page 539

(61) next ››› Page 541Page 541

(60) Page 540 -
Tradition, though unsupported hy documentary evi-
dence, asserts this castle to have been not the original
Lochraaben residence of the Bruces, but only a successor
of enlarged dimensions and augmented strength. A
little way S of the town, on the NW side of the loch, is
a large rising-ground called Castle Hill, which is pointed
out as the site of the original castle, and even as the
alleged birthplace of the first royal Bruce. That a
building of some description anciently crowned the
eminence, is evident from the remains of an old wall
an inch or two beneath the sui'face of the summit, and
from the vestiges of a strong and deep intrenchment
carried completely round the base. Tradition says that
the stones of this edifice were transferred from the
Castle Hill across the intervening part of the lake, to
the point of the heart-shaped peninsula on the southern
shore, as materials for the more recent erection ; and it
adds, that a causeway was constructed, and still ezists,
across the bed of the lake, to facilitate their conveyance.
But here monuments, documents, and physical pro-
babilities, concur in refusing corroborative evidence.
The Castle Hill commands a fine view of the burgh, of
the adjacent lakes, and of a considerable expanse of the
Howe of Annandale. Near it is a lower hill or mount,
the Gallows Hill, on which in ancient times stood a for-
midable gallows, seldom seen during the Border wars
without the dangling appendage of one or two reivers.
The baronial courts of Lochmaben, and even occasional
warden courts, were probably held on the summit of
the Castle Hill, whence the judges beheld their sen-
tences promptly carried into execution.
Robert the Brus of Cleveland, a grandson of that
noble knight of Normandy who came into England -ndth
William the Conqueror, and first possessed the manor of
Skelton, was a comrade in arms of our David I. while
prince, and received from him, when he came to the
throne in 1124, the lordship of Annandale, %vith a right
to enjoy his castle there, and all the customs apper-
taining to it. A charter, granted by William the Lyon
to Robert, third Lord of Annandale, confirming to him
the property held by his father in that district, is dated
at Lochmaben. This is supposed to have been granted
between 1165 and 1174. Robert, fourth Lord of Annan-
dale, wedded Isobel, second daughter of David, Earl of
Huntingdon, the younger brother of William the Lyon,
thus laying the foundation of the royal house of Bruce.
Their son, Robert, the competitor for the throne, and
the grandfather of Robert I. , died at his castle of Loch-
maben in 1295. In the j'ear preceding his death he
granted a charter, dated thence, confirming a convention
between the monks of Melrose and those of Holm-
cultram. ' The old castle of Lochmaben,' says Chalmers
in his Caledonia, ' continued the chief residence of this
family during the 12th and 13th centuries. Robert de
Bruce, the first Earl of Carrick, of this dynasty,
probably repaired the castle at Annan.' As a stone
from the ruins of Annan Castle bears his name, with
the date 1300, the conjecture seems to be formed with
great probability that the family had continued previ-
ously to reside at Lochmaben.
In July 1298 Edward took possession of Lochmaben
Castle ; and in 1300 he strengthened it and the castle of
Dumfries, placing adequate garrisons in them, with
ample supplies, and appointing a governor for each.
Hither fled Bruce in 1304, on his way from London,
before erecting his royal standard. Having met, near
the west marches, a traveller on foot, whose appearance
aroused suspicion, he found, on examination, that he
was the bearer of letters from Comyn to the English
king, urging the death or immediate imprisonment of
Bruce. He beheaded the messenger, and pressed
forward to his castle of Lochmaben, where he arrived
on the seventh day after his departure from London.
Hence he proceeded to Dumfries, where the fatal inter-
view between him and Comyn took place.
At the accession of the Bruce to the Scottish throne,
he conferred his paternal inheritance, with its chief seat,
the castle of Lochmaben, on Randolph, Earl of Moray.
When Edward III. obtained from Edward Baliol the
county of Dumfries as part of the price for helping him
to a dependent throne, he appointed a variety of officers
over Lochmaben Castle, and garrisoned the fortress
in defence of the cause of England. In 1342 the
Scots made a strenuous attempt to capture the castle, but
were repulsed; and next year the forces of David II.,
whom he was leading into England, were stoutly re-
sisted and harassed by its garrison. David, exasperated
by the repeated disasters inflicted on him, in 1346
vigorously assaulted the fortress, took it, and executed
Selby its governor. But after the battle of Durham,
which speedily followed, the castle changed both its
proprietor and its tenants. John, Earl of Moray, fall-
ing in that battle, the castle passed by inheritance to
his sister, Agnes, the Countess of March, and from her
was transmitted, through the reigns of Robert II. and
Robert III., to her son. Earl George ; whilst David II.
becoming the English king's prisoner, the castle once
more opened its gates to an English garrison. Even
after David II. 's restoration, Edward III. retained the
district of Annandale, and kept the fortress well
garrisoned to defend it ; but though connived at by the
pusillanimity of the Scottish king, his dominion was
pent up by the bravery of the people within the narrow
limits of the castle. Sallies of the garrison provoked
frequent retaliations, occasioned incursions into Eng-
land, and led, in particular, to a hostile foray (1380)
into Westmoreland, and the carrying away of great
booty from the fair of Penrith. In 1384 the Earl o*"
Douglas and Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway,
whose territories had been infested by the garrison,
marched in strong force against the castle, besieged and
captured it, and, by effecting its reduction, expelled the
English from Annandale. In 1409 the castle was re-
signed by the Earl of March to the Regent Albany, and
conferred, along with the lordship of Annandale, on the
Earl of Douglas. In 1450, when the Earl of Orkney
was sent to quell some outrages of the dependants of a
Douglas, and, though acting by the king's authority,
was opposed and defied, James II. marched an array
into Annandale, and took and garrisoned Lochmaben
Castle. In 1455, in common with the lordships of
Annandale and Eskdale, the castle became the property
of the Crown by the attainder of the Earl of Douglas.
Till the union of the Crowns it was preserved as a
Border strength, and belonged either to the kings per-
sonally or to their sons ; anS it was maintained and
managed by a special governor.
From 1503 to 1506, James IV. made great repairs and
improvements on the castle, and built within it a large
hall. In 1604, during a public progress through the
southern parts of his kingdom, he paid it a personal
visit. In 1511 he committed the keeping of it for seven
years, with many perquisites, to Robert Lauder of the
Bass. During the minority of James T., Robert, Lord
Maxwell, being a favoured counsellor of the queen-
mother, was by her intrusted with the keeping of the
castles of Lochmaben and Threave for nineteen years,
with the usual privileges. In 1565, when Queen Mary
chased into Dumfriesshire those who had broken into
rebellion on account of her marriage with Darnley, she,
accompanied by him, visited Lochmaben Castle, which
was then in the keeping of Sir John MaxweU. In 1588,
when James VI. , in the prosecution of his quarrel with.
Lord Maxwell, summoned his various castles to sur-
render, Lochmaben Castle offered some resistance, but,
after two days' siege, was given up. In 1612 the
governorship of the castle, together with the barony of
Lochmaben, was granted to John Murray, ' grome of his
Maiesties bedchalmer,' who was created Viscount of
Annan and Lord Murray of Lochmaben, and afterwards
Earl of Annandale. From him descended the noble
family of Stormont, now merged in that of Mans-
field. The title of constable and hereditary keeper
of the palace of Lochmaben is borne by Mr Hope
Johnstone of Annandale, as representative of the
Annandale marquisate. The governor of the castle had
a salary of £300 Scots, and the fishing of the lochs.
He had also, for the maintenance of the garrison, from

Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence