We skidded to a stop to take a picture of this ruined 14th century keep, which stands on an earthwork motte with a ditch, in the middle of a sheep pasture. The rectangular tower had a vaulted basement and hall. A turnpike stair in one corner led to the upper stories. The original entrance was probably on the first floor.
The walls at the base are quite thick, but they have noticeable seams and are topped by a thinner wall, as if the design was changed during construction. This seems to be a common theme — as if they have grand plans to start, but over the years of construction (and the castle passing from hand to hand) diminished the coffers and changes were made to the plan. The crumbling tower rises to about 60′.
The tower was the property of the Torthorwald family in the 13th century, and was the center of the still-existing village of Torthorwald. The lands passed to the Kirkpatricks, then to Carlyles in 1418. In 1544, Lord Carlyle sacked the castle in a raid against his sister-in-law. The property passed by marriage to the Douglases of Parkhead in 1609. It has obviously been abandoned for a long time, and grass is growing pretty well on the upper wall.