Threave Castle is situated on an island in the River Dee, 2.5 km west of Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It was the home of ‘Black’ Douglas Earls of Douglas from the late 14th century until their fall in 1455.
Threave Castle’s rectangular keep is 21 m (69 ft), or 5 storeys high, and 18.4 by 12.1 m (60 by 40 ft) m by 12.1 m in plan. The keep was once accessed by a movable bridge from the gatehouse to the first floor. This level is vaulted, and was occupied by kitchens. Below is a basement with a well and prison pit. A spiral stair within the 2 m (6 ft 7 in) thick wall leads up to the great hall, which had a second bridge access to the upper gatehouse. Above this were two timber floors, now missing, with two rooms on the next storey, and servants quarters at the top. Holes in the external walls would have supported a timber defensive structure known as a bretache, which allowed the defenders to drop objects on attackers at the walls.
The keep is enclosed by the later curtain wall, which has round towers on its three corners, and a series of arrow loops and gun ports which were added when artillery began to play a significant role in warfare. Only one of these towers, the south east, remains, along with the gatehouse, which was formerly equipped with a drawbridge. The curtain walls are only 4.4m from the keep, and are surrounded by a once flooded ditch. To the west the river runs close to the keep. The remains of a wall survive along the river bank, curving back to the north west corner of the keep. A gated harbour was constructed here to provide secure alternative access to the castle. To the north, only an earth bank defends the keep, although the marshy approach to this side would have discouraged attackers.
The island itself covers 8 hectares (20 acres), although in the 15th century it is estimated to have been only a third of this size. However, the isle would have supported subsidiary buildings, such as stores and workshops, as well as the castle. Access was by boat or via a ford at the south of the island.
See who says I can’t do history, well wickithingy helps alot