Stronghold

Built in the early 1400's by the Murray family, descendants of the Earl of Moray, standard bearer at the battle of Bannockburn, Comlongon guarded the approaches to Scotland from the Solway Firth.

Its massive 14 foot thick walls have stood witness to generations of bitter Border conflict. Surviving this period with remarkably few scars it remains in such good condition it is regarded by the Royal Scottish Architectural Society as one of the most impressive strongholds of its age to survive.

Comlongon Castle

Although lapsing into disrepair in the 17th century, the castle and estate suffered a period of neglect until, in 1880, the Earl of Mansfield restored the castle and built an extension in the form of a sumptuous Baronial mansion.

During the Second World War the building was occupied by Dr. Barnardos, housing orphans for two decades. Happily, in more recent times, the castle has entered a peaceful period becoming, from 1984, one of Scotland's premier venues to host wedding ceremonies.

Upon climbing a short series of steps, one reaches the arched entrance, this doorway is the only way in and out of the keep and was so consequently formidably protected. Firstly a huge 4 inch thick studded oak door faced any intruder. However, this was vulnerable to a concerted attack, and not fire proof, so immediately behind was hinged an iron gate or yett.

The yett was an ingenious defensive feature, wrought in such a fashion as to make it almost impossible to dismantle. Indeed, so difficult to deal with were these yetts that, in 1606 the privy council ordered their destruction in all strong places in the Borders as a consequence of the endemic local feuding. Comlongon managed to retain its original yett by virtue of Sir Charles Murray who was made warden of the western marches in 1459.

Behind this yett, on the right is a porters' recess. The porter was considered an important official, as in the first instance it was his responsibility to either grant or deny access for visitors to the castle.

The lower level or the barrel vaulted chamber served as a secure storage chamber for the keep. This chamber was divided into two levels, the lowest containing the well fed by a natural spring. This was vital in case of siege. On this ground level, fuel and fodder were stored. The upper level contained food for all the castle occupants, hopefully above any vermin infestation. Meat hooks can still be seen projecting from the ceiling.

The basement contains a display of three mummified cats, uncovered during recent excavation, believed to have been sealed up alive whilst the castle was under construction. These relics were thought to protect the occupants from evil spirits. The whole basement is designed to be virtually fireproof in the case of accident or attack, or to burn out rapidly before consuming the upper residential levels.

There are two staircases leading from the basement to the next level. The first is a small access staircase designed as a private passage between the levels for the family. The second links all the levels of the keep, terminating at the battlements. The second door up this staircase, decorated with shields, leads to an impressive stone flagged chamber measuring some 31 feet by 21 feet - the Great Hall.

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History
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Comlongon Armour

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Medievil Castle of Comlongon
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Comlongon Castle's Forbidden Dungeon
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