Caerlaverock Castle: Scotland’s Triangular Fortress

If you’re looking for a breathtaking, history-rich destination in Scotland, look no further than Caerlaverock Castle.

Pronunciation: Caerlaverock is pronounced ‘Car-Lav-er-rock’

This mighty, triangular, fortress has stood since the 13th century and has been witness to some of Scotland’s most dramatic moments.

Today, the castle is open to visitors who can explore its many rooms and towers, as well as learn about its fascinating past.

Where Is Caerlaverock Castle?

Where Is Caerlaverock Castle?

Caerlaverock Castle is located in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, close to the English border on the West of the country.

The castle is situated on a triangular-shaped piece of land with the River Nith running along two sides of it.

History of Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle: Scotland's Triangular Fortress 1
Caerlaverock in 1900

Caerlaverock Castle was built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier fortification.

It has been described as “one of the mightiest strongholds erected during the medieval period in Scotland”.

Maxwell Clan

Caerlaverock Castle: Scotland's Triangular Fortress 2

The original owners of the Caerlaverock land were the Maxwell Clan and was the stronghold of the Maxwell family for four centuries.

The first earthwork castle on the site was built around the 1220s, but was replaced by a substantial castle, built by Sir Herbert de Maxwell around 1277.

It was that structure which was besieged by King Edward I in 1300, the castle’s most famous event.

Siege of Caerlaverock Castle in 1300

Caerlaverock castle was the site of a famous siege in 1300.

The castle saw its first major action during the Siege of Caerlaverock in 1300 when Edward I invaded Scotland with his army. The English laid siege to the castle in an attempt to take control of Scotland.

Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the Scottish defenders held their ground against Edward’s forces for two weeks before finally surrendering.

14th Century

The castle was returned to the Maxwells in the early 14th century but was destroyed in 1312 after being beseiged again, this time by the forces of Edward II.

The then owner, Sir Eustace Maxwell, had declared for Edward’s enemy Robert the Bruce. Bruce decided to destoy the castle, rather than the English take possession of such a great stronghold.

However it was rebuilt in the mid 14th century by the Maxwells.

17th Century

The castle was besieged and captured by the English in 1640 during the Civil War and later recaptured by the Scots in 1645. It was partially demolished in 1648 by the English to prevent it from being used as a military stronghold.

The castle was restored in the 20th century and today, Caerlaverock is a popular tourist destination and one of the most recognizable castles in Scotland. The architecture of Caerlaverock Castle is fascinating and unique.

The Architecture of Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle, Scotland

The castle is built in the shape of a triangle with three massive towers at each corner. The towers are connected by thick walls and there is a large gatehouse in the middle of the castle.

The gatehouse has a drawbridge and a portcullis that would have been used to protect the castle from attackers. Caerlaverock also has a moat that would have been filled with water to further protect the castle.

The castle is built primarily from red sandstone, which gives it a unique appearance. The sandstone is from the local area and was easy to obtain.

Caerlaverock Castle is a great example of medieval architecture and is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Scotland.

Visiting The Castle

Caerlaverock Castle is located in Dumfries, Scotland off the B725.

The nearest train station is Dumfries, 8 miles away. A bus may be taken to within a 7 minute walk to the site.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the castle is closed for visitors whilst repairs to loose masonry is completed.

However the grounds are open (see below for opening times)


Caerlaverock Castle is a must-see for anyone visiting Scotland. This mighty fortress has stood for centuries and is rich in history and legend.

Today, the castle is open to visitors who can explore its many rooms and towers, as well as learn about its fascinating past.

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