Near the confluence of the rivers of Ewes and Esk stand the forlorn remains of Langholm Castle.


Today there is little to be seen. The south wall of a tower still stands to six metres high and smaller remains of the east and west walls. But walk the ground and its obvious that the castle once covered a much larger area. Though many of the turf-covered outlines are hard to interpret, were they wall or buildings, it is still clear to my eyes that Langholm Castle covered a vast area?

Purportedly build by Christopher Armstrong of Barngleish about 1526 as an Armstrong stronghold, my mind is disturbed by thinking that this was just another pele tower built by the clan that held sway in the district. The outworks which now lie covered are too long and wide even when considering that the tower would be surrounded by a barmkin wall. This Chrisopher Armstrong was born about 1505 and was brother to Johnnie of Gilnockie. He would be the right age to build a tower in 1526 but the holm of Langholm is not a very defensive place for such a small building as a pele even given that the rivers Esk and Ewes protected it on two sides.

Another Christopher, son of John and Elizabeth was born in 1523 and died in 1606. He had a son, also called Christopher, who was born in 1562. Thus we can say with some certainty that the Christopher, born in 1523 was the same person who was granted the castle of Langholm in 1562 by Lord Maxwell- he was appointed keeper ‘of the hous and place of Langholm’ by John, Lord Maxwell.

So are the years 1526 and 1562 being mixed up here? I can’t say for certain that that is the case. There are many documents, primary sources of the period, to which I have no access. I welcome comments from anyone who can confirm or refute my thoughts. Should this occur, then I will gladly write a follow up to this post.

Just another thought! the John Armstrong who was Christie’s father was ‘Johnnie of Gilnockie‘- the man, who with his followers, was hanged without trial in 1530 by the seventeen year old king of Scotland, James V. Johhnie’s father was Alexander, 6th Laird of Mangerton.

I feel that this was a stronger place in the two hundred and fifty years that Scotland fought for its independence. During those years of sporadic war and truce, of violence and atrocity, the castle stood as a barrier to English inroads to the west and Annandale, and to the north, to the Scottish heartlands.


(Courtesy of Bill Ewart of Langholm)

It is interesting to note that Langholm castle, in a Commission of the Wardenship of the Scottish West March, was noted as being as important as the castles of Annan, Lochmaben, and Thrieve. They were classed as his His Majesty’s ‘oun houses’ Surely it was thus more important than the other pele towers that stood at the time? Even Hollows Tower, built about 1526 ( why does this date crop up again), was not perceived as so important? Hollows stands in entirety to this day following renovation.

Perhaps the tower of Langholm, the remains of which still stand, was the central tower of a much more complex range of buildings. Again my interpretation and again I welcome comments.

Langholm Castle-Barred-the-Way-North-and-West-to-English-Armies

These are my own thoughts. I am not convinced that Christie of Barnglies’ built a tower here at such a late date as 1526.

The castle was raised when James the V1 of Scotland became James 1 of England in 1603. True James dropped a lot of the Armstrong strongholds on his way south to the English throne, but I think he ruined something special when he ordered his forces to invest the castle of Langholm.

(Courtesy of Bill Ewart of Langholm)

Published by Clan Carruthers Society - USA

We are all passionate about where we came from and where we're going. We set this website/blog up so we can all share our family stories along with the history for future generations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: