Soldiers and Siege at Dumbarton Castle, Scotland

by Ed Forteau /
Ed Forteau's picture
Mar 09, 2010 / 0 comments

Visitors to the formidable garrison fortress of Dumbarton Castle will, on Saturday 20th March, be transported back to the troubled times of the 17th century for ‘The Siege – 1640’.

This informative, entertaining event will focus on the story of Dumbarton Castle during the Scottish wars of independence, when Covenanters and Royalist troops clashed to gain control of the castles and forts throughout the country which were the backbone of its strategic defences.

A series of enlightening presentations involving costumed performers from re-enactment group ‘Fraser’s Dragoones’ will highlight how effectively historical re-enactments can bring these dark days to dramatic life.  Visitors will learn about the goals of the two opposing forces and why they were so passionate about their cause.  And weaponry displays will demonstrate the combat challenges of fighting with the musket and infantryman’s pike, and the skills required to handle them.


Historic Scotland - The Siege - 1640


Historic Scotland events manager Nick Finnigan said: “Dumbarton Castle’s impressive strategic location on a volcanic rock overlooking the Firth of Clyde, made it a key gateway, and it played a significant role – as a Dark Age fortress, medieval castle, and garrison fort in the 17th and 18th centuries -  in the shaping of Scotland’s history.  Through the centuries its control was fought over repeatedly and it figured prominently in the Scottish struggle for independence.

“The various activities of ‘The Siege – 1640’ offer a great opportunity for all the family to learn more about the past of this fascinating castle, to appreciate its importance during the wars of the mid-17th century, and how it was battled over.  Our presentations and displays will shed light on why Covenanters and Royalist troops were so opposed, and why it was so crucial to them to win control over properties like this - to the extent that they were prepared to sacrifice their lives in the process.”

‘The Siege – 1640’ at Dumbarton Castle takes place from 12.00 noon to 4pm on the 20th and entry is included in the admission price ( Adult £4.20, Child £2.10, Concession £3.20 and free for Members of Historic Scotland).


Historic Scotland - The Siege - 1640



§         Dumbarton Castle is located in Dumbarton off the A82; Postcode: G82 1JJ; tel: 01389 732167. Opening times are: 1 April - 30 September - all week 9.30am to 5.30pm; 1 October - 31 October - all week 9.30am to 4.30pm;1 November - 31 March – Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat & Sun, 9.30am to 4.30pm.


§         The recorded history of the castle reaches back 1,500 years. In the Middle Ages, Dumbarton became an important royal castle. The Norwegian frontier lay just 10 miles downriver, and Dumbarton served as a Border stronghold. In 1305, during the Wars of Independence, William Wallace may have been held prisoner here before being taken to London for execution. The Wallace Tower is thought to be named in his honour. The castle’s geographical position, distanced from the political heartland of the country, made it a good royal refuge and Mary Queen of Scots sheltered here in 1548 until a ship could take her to France and safety.

When Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 to begin her reign, she landed at Leith and Dumbarton’s long and distinguished role as ‘gateway’ was over. However, its role as a garrison fortress continued. Substantial new artillery fortifications were built in the 17th and early 18th centuries. These are what the visitor sees today, for nothing survives from the Dark-Age fortress, and little from the medieval castle.


§         Highlights for visitors to Dumbarton Castle include: the stunning views – from the White Tower Crag, one can see for miles, including the peak of Ben Lomond; the artillery fortifications – fine examples of early 18th-century Georgian military architecture; the governor’s house – a fine Georgian residence, housing some interesting artefacts found at the castle.


    * Dumbarton Castle is one of 345 heritage properties and sites throughout Scotland in the care of Historic Scotland.  From the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, these range from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings. They include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:


·        Historic Scotland’s mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.



All information and photos courtesy and copyright of Historic Scotland