Three miles south of Creetown and looking across Wigtown Bay to Wigtown is Carsluith Castle. The castle dates back to the 1400s and is unusual in having a later collection of outbuildings that show the way many castles formed the focus of small settlements. One of these is a private residence, while another provides smokehouse that includes a cafe and shop.
Carsluith Castle lies just off the main A75. Entry to the castle is free and a visit to the cafe is an added attraction. Although the castle is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, the cafe is an independently run local venture.
Carsluith has emerged from at least two stages of building as a fairly typical L-plan tower house. The only entrance door is, as usual, in the angle of the "L", where it could most easily be defended. Once inside, the ground floor comprises two vaulted storage cellars in the main body of the castle, with the main stair in the stair-tower.
The first floor would have accommodated the castle's main hall and, because of the vaulting beneath, is fully accessible. However, as is also usual, almost no flooring or roofing remains above first floor level. Originally the second floor was subdivided into two rooms, as the private residence of the laird. At roof level a modern timber walkway has been constructed across part of the space, allowing good views down into the main body of the castle and across the surrounding countryside and Wigtown Bay.
The overall impression is of a small, very domestic castle, designed to guard against truculent neighbours rather than invading armies. But despite, or perhaps because of, its lack of grandeur, you do get some real feel for the day to day lives of the people who once lived here.
Carsluith Castle was originally built as a simple oblong tower, probably some time in the 1420s. The landowner it was built for was John Cairns of Orcharton, nephew of a follower of the 4th Earl of Douglas. The land and castle passed by marriage to the Broun family of New Abbey in the early 1500s.
It was they who improved the accommodation at Carsluith Castle by adding the stair tower in 1568. The later nature of the stair tower is obvious from the slightly odd way it meets one of the upper windows of the original oblong tower house.
The best known of the Brouns was Gilbert Broun, probably born at Carsluith. He went on to become last Abbot of Sweetheart Abbey who, despite a spell of imprisonment in Blackness Castle in 1606, managed successfully to resist the Reformation in this part of Scotland until 1609 when he was finally expelled to France.
In 1748 Carsluith Castle was sold by James Broun, a merchant in London, to finance his emigration to India. It changed hands a number of times over the following century and a half, before coming into State care in 1913.