Airth Castle is a 15th century castle with later additions, standing on the Hill of Airth above the flood plain of the River Forth.
The lands of Hereth or Erthe were granted by David I to the Abbey of Holyrood in 1128, and the settlement of Airth, which grew up to the north of a church and an early castle, was given the status of Royal Burgh around the end of the 12th century. The owners of the lands around this time were the “de Erth” family, and in 1248 Adam de Erth also owned the lands of Elphinstone and Plean.
A castle is said to have been built on the site in 1309 by Fergus de Erth, but if this is correct then it probably replaced an earlier castle. William Wallace is said to have destroyed Airth Castle in 1298, although this should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt, as the only reference to this fact is in Blind Harry’s poems. The oldest surviving external part of Airth Castle, forming the south-west corner of the current building, is known as Wallace’s Tower.
Around 1394 Sir Edward Bruce of Stenhouse married Agnes Airth, and the lands and barony of Airth became the property of the Bruce family.
In 1488 Airth Castle was burned following the Battle of Sauchieburn, and Robert Bruce of Airth set about building the aforementioned south-west tower. A simple rectangular tower measuring around 10.1m east to west by around 8.5m north to south, it rises to a height of three storeys plus a garret within a crenellated parapet.
During the early 16th century the tower was extended to the west with the addition of a new wing featuring four bays with dormer windows at roof level.
In 1581 another new wing was built, extending north from the east end of the slightly earlier wing, forming a long L-shape. Within the angle created by the join between the wings a tall square tower was built containing a large spiral staircase, with the southern corners topped off by a pair of round turrets.
The south-east turret is larger than its south-western neighbour, and was once finished off with a conical roof, still surviving in the 1960s but now removed. Behind the turrets is a flat roof, with crenellations corbelled out on the east side.
The wing itself features dormer windows surmounted by carved pediments.
There may have been a corresponding west wing, extending north from the original tower, as this is shown on two estate plans, one of which dates from 1721. But another plan from 1762 doesn’t show this wing, suggesting either it had been demolished, or was perhaps a proposed addition which was never built.
Following the Bruce family’s involvement in the Jacobite Rising of 1715, Airth Castle was sold to James Graham, the 1st Duke and 4th Marquess of Montrose, in 1717.
Between 1807 and 1809 the architect David Hamilton was commissioned by Thomas Graham, grandson of the 1st Duke of Montrose, to build a new north frontage for the castle. Joining the two wings of the L-shaped building together the new three storey wing has a central tower and flanking round towers at either corner.
The Graham family owned Airth Castle until 1920, and in 1971 it was converted into a hotel.
Alternative names for Airth Castle
Airth House; Erth Castle; Wallace's Tower