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News | 6th May 2021

Can crumbling castle be saved from collapse?

Part of Langholm’s history in danger of disappearing altogether


LANGHOLM’S only nationally-important scheduled monument is at risk after it was revealed that responsibility for its upkeep is in doubt.

Langholm Castle, on the Castleholm is almost 500 years old, having been built in 1526, and the ruin presents a forlorn sight.

Buccleuch, which owns the castle, leased it to the Clan Armstrong Trust Ltd in the 1990s but it was dissolved in 2018.

It was designated a scheduled monument by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) which was alerted last week by a perceived deterioration in its condition.

Some members of the public contacted the E&L Advertiser and sent photos of what they believed was a recent collapse in a wall.

Your community paper got in touch with HES, along with Buccleuch.

An HES spokesperson said: “Langholm Castle has been designated a nationally important scheduled monument.

“Scheduling does not confer any responsibilities for maintenance on an owner but we encourage good management and can offer grants and advice to support conservation works.

“We regularly monitor the condition of scheduled monuments and last visited Langholm Castle in 2019.

“At that time we recorded its overall condition as satisfactory but noted some localised areas of concern, including the encroachment of vegetation.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council also contacted us last week about recent reports of stones falling from the castle and we plan to visit again soon.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the owner or a community group to get the structural issue redressed and the vegetation removed.

“Any works would require scheduled monument consent from us beforehand.”

Ed Morris, estate manager at Borders Estate, said: “Langholm Castle was leased to the Clan Armstrong Trust in the mid-1990s, with responsibility placed on the trust for its upkeep as part of that agreement.

The trust ceased operation a few years ago and we are now working with HES to consider what maintenance is required.

“Estate staff met HES at the castle last Friday as the first step in a process which is likely to take some time.”

At the time of publication of this week’s edition no one from HES was available to comment.

Ian Martin, who runs the Gilnockie Tower visitor attraction, also attended last Friday’s site visit.

He said: “The HES representative was certainly concerned about one of the walls and he is going to send me a report.

“Yes, it has deteriorated but I think it would have been in the 1990s when work was last done on it.

“Buccleuch is going to repair the fence around it to keep folk away and put up a couple of signs.”

He says the castle could be more of a feature because it is important historically to the Eskdale valley.

Ian, who will soon launch a new reiver trail, added: “It’s another attraction we should be maximising.

“We have tens of thousands of folk on our email list and Langholm castle is on of the places they want to visit.

“Many castles of this type are falling down and it comes down to cost. Who is going to pay for it?

“We don’t make enough of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries but they are the most important development periods in Eskdale. There is in Langholm some impetus now to get a bit of financial support.”

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