Alloa Tower is a tall castle built in the 14th century, but added to and altered extensively over the centuries. It was built as one of a string of defences along the Forth following Scotland’s independence from England. One of the neighbouring castles – Clackmannan Tower – is visible from Alloa Tower’s battlements.
One of the earliest features which still remains is the dungeon, now visible through a portal in the floor. The walls are incredibly thick suggesting that they too are original. The roof is one of few surviving medieval roofs in Scotland, but is thought to be slightly later, probably 15th century, from when the castle was extended to five storeys. At first floor level there is a well, which was sunk into the bedrock to allow a water supply within the castle. It was blocked up during remodelling work carried out by John Erskine, the Sixth Earl of Mar, in the 18th century.
The Sixth Earl fought for the Jacobite cause in 1715, and as such was exiled in France, from where he planned improvements to Alloa Tower, apparently inspired by the Palace of Versailles amongst others. The tower now formed just an annex to a much larger classical house, set in 42 acres of gardens running all the way down to the Forth.
In 1800 the new mansion was destroyed by fire, but luckily the tower was saved when locals dug up the lawn and piled the turf in the doorways between the tower and the mansion to prevent the fire from spreading.
By the 1980s the tower had fallen into disrepair, with the Erskine family living nearby in a newer house, and the tower passed to the Alloa Tower Building Preservation Trust who restored it to its present state. It was opened to the public in 1997.