The lands of Caerlaverock were granted to the Maxwell family in about 1220. The castle dates from the 1270s, though an earlier castle built a short distance away to the southeast was later abandoned in favour of the present one. Its proximity to the English border meant that it was frequently involved in conflict. In 1300, Edward of England laid siege with 87 knights and 3,000 men. Siege engines were brought from the castles of Lochmaben, Carlisle, Roxburgh, Jedburgh and Skinburness. Not surprisingly, Lord Maxwell's garrison of 60 men soon surrendered. A large model of a trebuchet now stands in the castle grounds, near the visitor centre. NY0265 : Trebuchet
. The final siege against Caerlaverock came in 1640, during the Civil War. On that occasion the Royalist garrison held out for 13 weeks before surrendering to the Covenanters. Following the siege, the castle was stripped of all its valuable fixtures and fittings, and the great south curtain wall was demolished to render the building useless as a place of defence.
Caerlaverock is unusual in its triangular shape. It is surrounded by two moats. The inner one NY0265 : Caerlaverock Castle
still holds a considerable expanse of water which completely surrounds the castle, but the outer moat is now dry. NY0265 : The outer moat, Caerlaverock castle
. The irregularity of the mound between the two indicates successive clearances of the moat. At the centre of the castle is the Inner Court, but the walls and towers surrounding it have been altered over time to take account both of siege damage and of fashion. Originally the inner buildings were made of timber, but they were eventually replaced with stone. The upper floors of the gatehouse provided the living space for the lord and his family.
In around 1634, when security was no longer a priority, Robert, first Earl of Nithsdale, added the ranges along the east and south curtain walls in the modern style. These chambers, known as the Nithsdale Lodging, were spacious, light and airy, in contrast to the medieval rooms of the gatehouse. The facade is decorated above the windows and doorways with tympana showing heraldic achievements associated with the Maxwells, and themes from classical mythology. NY0265 : Inside Caerlaverock Castle
. The grandeur of the Nithsdale Lodging is in stark contrast to the plain facade of the west range.
The southeast tower is largely all gone now, but the southwest tower still stands to its full height. It is known as Murdoch's Tower, in reference to Murdoch, Duke of Albany, who was confined there in 1425. None of the rooms in the tower has fireplaces, suggesting that their function was military. NY0265 : Murdoch's Tower, Caerlaverock Castle
The visitor can follow a nature trail through the carr woodlands to the south of the castle, taking in the site of the old castle. NY0265 : Caerlaverock: the first castle
andNY0265 : Caerlaverock: the first castle
.This first castle was situated in the woodland between the present castle and the coast. Only the grassy mound and some stretches of stonework show its outline today. Not much is known about it, but it was more traditional in shape than the present castle. Excavations in 1978 confirmed that it was built around 1220 & suggested that it was occupied for only a short time. Possibly the site was found to be unsuitable, being so close to the salt marshes of the Solway Firth. The new castle was more securely built on rock.
Caerlaverock is now looked after by Historic Scotland. See Link