Cruggleton Castle

Cruggleton Castle is the most significant fortification in Galloway. Since it was built, it has been the seat of the Lords of Galloway, including the current Lord Alan.

Site and Fortifications


The castle is set on a high precipice overlooking Wigtown Bay. It covers about one and a half acres of land, and is surrounded on the landward side by a deep ditch. The walls are arranged in the traditional fashion, with an inner and outer bailey supporting a keep. The gate is strongly fortified, with a guardhouse, portcullis and drawbridge. Eight towers provide strongpoints for defence, and also demonstrate the intention of the Lords of Galloway to defend their independence. The castle is widely considered impregnable by landward assault.

On the other side, the sea makes it equally so. Immediately under the castle, there is a landing place for small vessels to be drawn up and secured in rough weather. The landing is accessed by way of a path up the precipice, intersected at the harbour by another gate, featuring a small guard-house with a portcullis, and another where the path enters the inner bailey.


Cruggleton castle began as a simple stone tower, erected by Lord Fergus of Galloway in the early 12th century. It was instrumental in repelling several raids from the Manx and Ilesmen.

The last notable battle at the castle occurred in 1154, the year after King David's death. The Ilsesmen, finding it impossible to retake the castle of Cruggleton by open assault, tried to do so by strategy. The fleet, numbering nearly forty vessels, hovered about the coast and, on what was thought a favourable opportunity, an old man stealthily approached the castle in a boat, bearing an enchanted war banner. This was the famous Reafen, which the Ilsesmen believed would ensure a successful conquest.

The object was to gain access close to, or, if possible, on the ramparts, unfurl and wave the standard. The garrison would be rendered powerless, and those in ambush would have immediately taken the castle. The guards were, however, too much on the alert to allow of this, and before the boatman could perform his perilous task, he and his standard were seized. The Ilsesman was blinded, castrated and set adrift in his boat. The Reafen was burned in the outer bailey.

To this day, the old boatman appears on the ramparts with his standard. After waving it, they both vanish into thin air.


Notable inhabitants of Cruggleton castle include:-

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