Cardoness Castle is a ruined 15th century tower house which guards the entrance to the Water of Fleet at Fleet Bay.
The lands of Anwoth were granted to David fitz Teri, a Cumbrian lord, by Malcolm IV around 1170 and he built a motte-and-bailey castle at Boreland a few hundred metres to the west of Cardoness.
By 1466 the lands of Cardoness were owned by the McCulloch family and it was they who built the present castle on a rocky eminence which was once surrounded by the marshy land of the Fleet estuary. It may have been built by Alexander McCulloch, a close associate of James IV.
The castle rises to a height of almost 16.0m, consists of six storeys of accommodation and is rectangular in plan measuring around 13.0m east to west by around 9.7m north to south. The walls of the castle are up to 2.4m thick and it was defended by numerous inverted keyhole gunloops.
The basement level was divided into two storeys by an entresol supported by corbels. On the first floor was the great hall with a large fireplace on one wall and a window seats built into the thickness of another wall.
Above the great hall was the laird’s private chamber which also served as his bedroom.
Above the laird’s accommodation was another level of living quarters and then a chamber at garret level within the battlements.
The main tower formed the north side of a courtyard with projecting wings to the south and west containing vaulted basement chambers.
The whole site was originally surrounded by an outer barmkin which ran around the edge of the rocky outcrop.
In the 17th century the McCullochs were involved in a local feud with the Gordon family which culminated in Sir Godfrey McCulloch shooting William Gordon of Bush o’ Bield in the leg 1690. Gordon died from his injury and Sir Godfrey fled to France but was apprehended in 1697 while in Edinburgh and beheaded. Cardoness seems to have lain empty from this time, passing through a series of owners including the Gordons and the Maxwells before it was placed into state care in 1927.
Alternative names for Cardoness Castle
Cardines; Cardiness; Cardonness Castle; Kardeness Castle; Kardoness Castle; Kerdenes; Kerdennes