Lochnaw has a rich and vibrant history. There is ample evidence of Iron Age activity across the estate. One of the largest Iron Age hill forts in Southern Scotland sits on the edge of the estate at Larbrax overlooking the Irish Sea above a natural cliff top amphitheatre under which now sits Beach Lodge, one of our holiday cottages. The fort, known as Kemp’s Walk, was later believed to have been utilised by Vikings who were expelled from Ireland in the early Middle Ages.
Lochnaw Loch, formerly known as the ‘White Loch, on whose shoreline Lochnaw Castle currently sits, is not a natural feature. It seems it was an artificial creation of the Iron Age, formed by the damming of the Galdenoch Burn which flows through a natural geological basin at the top of Aldouran Glen. The flooding of this basin created what was, in effect, a giant moat. A fort was constructed on one side of the basin and a number of crannogs (artificial mounds of stone and timber on which dwellings were constructed) dotted the new loch. Sadly, the loch side Iron Age fort was dismantled in the Stuart period, the stone being used for the construction of new roads and bridges on the estate, although evidence of the crannogs remain.
The original, or ‘Old’, Lochnaw Castle was actually constructed on a rocky outcrop in the middle of Lochnaw Loch. It.s date of origin is unknown although the first record of it dates from 1360 when King David II of Scotland, son of the legendary Robert the Bruce, awarded the royal castle of Lochnaw to an Andrew Agnew for services to the crown. And so began the Agnews 6 century long association with Lochnaw. The arrival of the ‘upstart’ Agnews in a part of Scotland then dominated by the fearsome ”Black’ Douglas Clan, hereditary Lords of Galloway, did not augur well for their future survival. The animosity between the clans culminated in the sacking of Old Lochnaw Castle by the aptly named Archibald the Grim, Earl of Douglas in 1390 and the ejection of the Agnews. However, by 1426 they had resumed hegemony over Lochnaw and began construction of the current castle. The family remained at Lochnaw until 1948 over which time they greatly extended the castle and developed the estate, gardens and grounds to make it one of the jewels in the crown of the Rhins of Galloway. Following the Agnews departure after the Second World War, the estate fell in to almost half a century of neglect until being rescued by the current owners who have endeavoured to try and add some much needed lustre to this faded jewel. The programme of restoration and renewal can be measured in decades, such is the amount of work required to transform the estate from the parlours condition it which it was found but much progress has been made and many more improvements are in the pipeline.