Morton Castle

Visiting Morton Castle

Morton Castle was built in the 1300s and is one of Scotland's remote fortifications. Based in Dumfries and Galloway it is widely in ruins, but does it offer picturesque views of the Lowther Hills and the Morton Loch. Morton Castle is free to visit and open throughout the year. 


As the castle is a remote fortress, there’s no proper parking space in the area. As an alternative, you can park your car at the forest road entrance and use the pathway that is located opposite the castle footpath. 

This pseudo-parking area can only cater to three cars, which means you might need to wait for a spot if you visit the castle during a 'busy' time.


As with most Scottish forts, Morton Castle is free of charge. 


Morton Castle is also open throughout the year. 

The fort, however, has no ‘exact’ opening times. You can visit it during the day or at night - it’s up to you.

Location and Access

As an off-the-beaten-path tower, Morton Castle is a bit hard to find. That said, you can locate it by treading the A702 road, which is northeast of Carronbridge, for two kilometres (1.2 miles).

Make sure to enter the first road on the right (east). Be prepared for the unstaggered roads and potholes, though. 

Continue driving until you reach a steep, narrow road on the hill. From here, you’ll pass by a drive, and later on, the triangular junction. 

Driving on, you'll finally see a Morton Castle signpost. Access the track placed slightly to the right, and you'll reach the forest road. As mentioned, this is the best place for parking, but it can only accommodate three cars.

Know Before You Go

There are no tour guides here, although there are signs throughout the premises. It’s up to you to research the castle’s history before (or after) your visit. 

It’s best to get your stomach full (and your bladder empty) before you visit the fortress because there are no restrooms or other facilities in the area. 

Places To Stay Nearby

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Morton Mains Cottage

The nearest accommodation to Morton Castle is the 19th century Morton Mains Cottage. It’s a single-story inn made with pink sandstone, a material used in many buildings throughout the area. 

Just like the castle, you’ll need to traverse a worn-down road to reach this cottage. But when you do, you're sure to be amazed at its lovely rooms and amenities.


Buccleuch & Queensberry Hotel 

Located 11 minutes away from Morton Castle, Buccleuch & Queensberry Hotel is housed in a beautiful 19th-century Georgian building. 

Since it only has 15 available rooms, it is best to make reservations early.


Premier Inn Dumfries Hotel

A good 38 minutes away from Morton Castle, Premier Inn Dumfries is a lovely yet inexpensive hotel for travelers. It has double, twin, and family rooms for the taking. 

One of the best things about the hotel is the Table Table restaurant, where you can get unlimited breakfast for only £9.50. 


History of Morton Castle

Ralph Fitz Dunegal is linked with the castle but its true founder is unknown. Over the years, it was passed from one Douglas to the next. During that time, it was burned and ransacked by the army of James IV. After two centuries of use, the castle fell into the ruins it's known for today.



A still-unknown owner commissioned the construction of Morton Castle. Despite the name, it's a hall-house - where a first-floor hall is located on top of an undercroft. 

Based on the construction, it’s believed that an English master mason built Morton Castle. Historians attribute this to the fort's back-to-back gatehouse, which is similar to the Newcastle Fort's black gate. 


Following the Treaty of Berwick, the Scots had been tasked to destroy Morton Castle - as well as 12 other fortresses. 


James II bestowed the castle to James Douglas of Dalkeith, the future Earl of Morton. 


James IV, the grandson of James II, burned the castle repeatedly. It became one of the casualties in his aggressive campaign against the Earl of Morton. 


William Douglas of Coshogle sold the castle to his namesake, William Douglas of Drumlanrig.


After more than two centuries of Douglas occupancy, the castle fell into ruins.

Morton Castle Occupants

For two centuries, different Douglases occupied Morton Castle. 

  • James Douglas of Dalkeith, became Earl of Morton following his marriage to James I’s daughter. 
  • William of Drumlanrig, who later on became the 1st Earl of Queensberry, used the castle as a hunting lodge, rather than a dwelling. After this time the castle fell into disrepair.

Images of Morton Castle

Morton Castle Morton Castle
Morton Castle

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Morton Castle Facts

Morton Castle is built on top of the ruins of a castle - one that was destroyed in 1357.

When it was first constructed, Morton Castle would have looked like Caerlaverock Castle - a fortress located south of Dumfries. 

Despite its remote location, the castle was scavenged for its stones to be used in other construction projects.

A clock that has been taken from Morton Castle is said to be exhibited in the nearby Drumlanrig Castle, which was also owned by the Douglas family, who used to occupy the fortress. 

Some medieval tiles from the castle, on the other hand, can be found at Dumfries Museum.

Morton Castle served as the backdrop of the 1978 movie “39 Steps,” where Robert Powell starred as Hannay. 

Morton Castle Q&A

How Much Time Should You Spend in Morton Castle?

Although some visitors are satisfied after 15 minutes of touring the castle ruins, most prefer to have at least an hour to roam its halls. 

However, if you want to take a nature walk down the fields, you should plan to spend a few hours in the area. 

Is Morton Castle Safe for Children?

While parents should exercise caution over children, Morton Castle is safe for children to visit. The only part of the grounds children should avoid is the grass banks as they’re a little steep.

Are There Restrooms in Morton Castle?

No. Make sure to relieve yourself before you visit the castle. 

Are There Picnic Facilities in Morton Castle?

Morton Castle offers a lovely landscape for a picnic, but sadly, there are no picnic facilities. Still, you can bring your own mats, tables, or chairs and enjoy a picnic.

Location of Morton Castle

Morton Castle sits on a hill overlooking an artificial loch to the north of Dumfries, about four miles (6.27 km) north of Thornhill. Accessible only by foot, these ruins sit in a triangular headland, offering breathtaking views of Morton Loch on two sides.

Other Places To Visit Near Morton Castle

Although Morton Castle is one of Dumfries’ top attractions, there’s so much more to see in this Scottish town. 

Drumlanrig Castle

Located 11 minutes away is another fortress - the Drumlanrig Castle. Also known as the Pink Palace, it’s a beautiful example of 17th century Renaissance architecture. 

This castle serves as the seat of the Douglas Family, which, as mentioned, owned the Morton Castle as well. 

Drumlanrig Castle promises more than just breathtaking views and outdoor events, as it's an excellent place for art enthusiasts as well. It houses the impressive Buccleuch Art Collection, which includes paintings from Van Dyck and El Greco. 

Crawick Multiverse

Charles Jencks, a landscape architect deeply inspired by Cosmology, has quite a few attractions near Morton Castle. One is the Crawick Multiverse, which is a good 23-minute drive from the fortress. 

You can enjoy a landscape that features science, art, and cosmology themes in this land art installation. 

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Located 25 minutes away from Morton Castle is the aptly named Garden of Cosmic Speculation. This 30-acre/12-hectare space is the other brainchild of Crawick Multiverse creator Charles Jencks. 

Here, you can find ‘unique’ features, such as pathways depicting black holes and fractals. It’s a great place to rest, meditate, and ponder upon cosmology.