The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available!
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available! 

Clackmannan Tower

Stirling & Clackmannanshire: About 1.5 miles east and south of Alloa, to west of Clackmannan, on minor roads south of B910, on footpath, east of Black Devon river, at Clackmannan Tower.

 

HES   NS 905920   OS: 58   FK10 4HR

 

OPEN: Access at all reasonable times: view from exterior only.
Tel: 01786 431326   Web: Clackmannan website/www.clackmannantower.co.uk

 

Part of Clackmannanshire Tower Trail, along with Sauchie TowerCastle CampbellMenstrie Castle and Alloa Tower.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (© Martin Coventry)
Plans, Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower: plans (MacGibbon and Ross)

Standing on the summit of a ridge known as King’s Seat Hill and seen from miles around, Clackmannan Tower is a 14th-century tower of three storeys, which was heightened in the 15th century. Another taller tower was added in the late 15th century, with a machicolated corbelled-out parapet, making the building L-plan. The castle stands on the site of an older stronghold.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (© Martin Coventry)

The original entrance to the old tower, at first-floor level, was reached by an external stair. When the new tower was added, a turnpike stair was inserted in the re-entrant angle, the entrance at ground level. Only the top of this stair survives, the lower part having been removed to allow the building of a wider scale-and-platt stair to the first-floor.
  The tower is depicted on Pont’s map of Stirling and Falkirk as a large tower on a hill.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (Billings)
Fireplace, Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower: fireplace (MacGibbon and Ross)

Both basements are vaulted, as are the first floors. The hall, in the main block, has a fine decorated 16th-century fireplace. There is an unusual long narrow gallery within the walls of the third floor, entered through one of the window recesses.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (MacGibbon and Ross)

An adjoining mansion was added in the late 16th century, but was demolished and nothing remains. Fragments of a courtyard wall, garden terrace and bowling green remain.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower: carved entrance (© Martin Coventry)

There was a royal castle or hunting lodge here, possibly from the 12th century, which was mentioned in the 13th century. Clackmannan was a property of the Bruces from 1359 until 1796, having been given to the family by David II. David Bruce of Clackmannan is mentioned in 1484, while another David is on record in the 1690s. The family were bankrupted by 1708, and Henry Bruce of Clackmannan fought for the Jacobites in the 1745 Rising. On 26th August 1787, in the adjoining but now demolished mansion, Henry Bruce’s widow, Catherine, ‘knighted’ Robert Burns, with the sword of Robert the Bruce. The tower and mansion were abandoned in 1791 when the last of the family died out.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (© Martin Coventry)

Part of the castle collapsed because of mining subsidence, but this has been repaired and the tower is now in the care of HES.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (MacGibbon and Ross)

There have reputedly been some unexplained spooky occurrences at the tower, and a paranormal investigation has been undertaken.

Clackmannan Tower, an impressive and picturesque old tower house of the Bruces in a prominent spot Clackmannan Tower (© Martin Coventry)

In the village of Clackmannan are the remains of the tolbooth and mercat cross, and beside it a large standing stone, the ‘clach’ Mannan, ‘clach’ meaning stone in Gaelic. This was not its original location, having being moved twice. The nearby parish church on the High Street  dates from the end of the 18th century, but stands on the site of a church dedicated to St Serf and there may have been a place of worship here from the 7th century. There are memorials in the graveyard from the 17th century, including for the Bruces.

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