Castle Campbell is a formal terraced garden dating from the 15th to 17th century, with sublime 19th-century glen walks. Together with the architectural features, this landscape forms a spectacular composition, and makes a major contribution to the surrounding scenery. The designed landscape is also of outstanding nature conservation value.
Type of Site
A 15th'17th-century formal terraced garden with sublime 19th-century glen walks
Location and Setting
Castle Campbell is situated to the north of Dollar at the end of a minor road in Dollar Glen. The castle lies on the steep north slope of the Ochil Hills at the head of Dollar Glen, on the western flank of Gloom Hill, with the Burns of Care and Sorrow forming precipitous gorges on either side. There are views towards the castle and the Ochils from the B9140. From Castle Campbell there are fine panoramic views south over the designed landscape to the Vale of Devon, Stirling Castle, the Forth valley and Clackmannanshire. The lands of Castle Campbell were formerly part of the extensive Harvieston estate. In 1948, Mr Kerr of Harvieston offered the castle and Dollar Glen to the National Trust for Scotland. Historic Scotland has guardianship of the castle, whilst the Trust cares for the upkeep of the glen. The extent of the designed landscape, which includes both castle and glen, has remained unchanged since 1948.
Castle Campbell is a courtyard castle with a range of stone buildings dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The 16th-century south range and hall overlooking the terracing was altered in the 17th century when windows were enlarged. It contains vaulted cellars and a pend to the garden terraces. The east range was rebuilt and possibly remodelled in the late 16th / early 17th century. A two-arch loggia at the base of this range faces the courtyard. The gateway and wall on the western side of the courtyard are also assigned to this period.
The Inventory of Monuments in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, 1933, dates the two Garden Terraces from the 16th century. They are supported by rubble walls with large, flat coping stones. There are a set of double steps and the remains of a small Circular Tower in the south-eastern angle of the lower terrace. The circular tower has not been dated. It may form part of the earlier defensive structure or be the remains of a gazebo or banqueting house, but is not evident on the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1859.
At the end of the garden is an archway, thought not to be of great antiquity, which leads to a small oval area with perpendicular sides. This 19th-century addition is known as John Knox's Pulpit, and overlooks Windy Edge Pass and Kemp's Score.
Drives and Approaches
The present approach is via a steep lane from Dollar which loops around to Castle Campbell from the north and fords the Burn of Care. Previously, the old way from Dollar was by a track which crossed the shoulder of Gloom Hill and joined a road running through the hills from Glen Devon. This still exists as a path.
The 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1859, shows the track beyond the ford as being planted with deciduous trees. The 3rd edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1923, shows these all to have gone. The Maiden Tree marked on all the OS maps still survives.
Paths and Walks
With few exceptions, the present paths, bridges and walks around Castle Campbell and the glen are not indicated on the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1859. The 2nd edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1895, shows an elaborate series of paths and named spots around the Burns of Care and Sorrow to the north and south of the castle, forming a series of picturesque circuit walks of differing lengths. A medium-length walk to the north of the castle along the Burn of Sorrow includes rock-cut steps called Jacob's Ladder which lead to a footbridge over the Burn and then to a viewing point overlooking the Sochie Falls before returning to Castle Campbell. The walks are punctuated by various scenes of natural interest such as the Hempy Falls and Sochie Falls. Kemp's Score or Cutt is a dramatic fissure in the rocks below the castle which can be negotiated by a board walk. Local folk tradition says the cleft was made by a man of the same name who had gigantic stature and strength. Kemp is the folk-name for a giant.
There is no surviving parkland at Castle Campbell, but the 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25'), 1859, does show that the sloping ground to the west, south and east of the castle was planted with specimen deciduous trees.
Dollar Glen Wood is the largest of the semi-natural, long-established woodlands in Clackmannan District. The SSSI description states:
'The upper acid slopes of semi-natural deciduous woodland are dominated by oak with an understorey of birch and rowan and a characteristic ground flora. Lower slopes, enriched with nutrients through groundwater flushing, support mixed valley woodland of ancient origin which is dominated by ash and wych elm.'
Three types of woodland have been identified at Dollar Glen according to the National Vegetation Classification. They are: firstly, ash/elm mixed woodland, along the burns in the steep and rocky areas, with ground flora such as Dog's mercury (Mercurialis perennis), ferns (Dryopteris filix-mas and Dryopteris pseudomas); and secondly, oak woodland, with Pedunculate oak (Quercus petraea), birch (Betula pubescens), and Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). This type is mainly found on the upper slopes. The predominantly mature Pedunculate oak is assumed to be planted. The ground flora is species poor and dominated by grasses, with ferns common, and bracken in some areas. The third type of woodland is acid oak woodland with Pedunculate oak and birch, concentrated on the east side of the Dollar Burn. The ground flora is dominated by grasses along the top of the more gentle slopes and by rushes and understorey shrubs on the steeper, rockier ground.
The garden terraces at Castle Campbell clearly indicate a concerted gardening effort, although the precise date of the garden is not known. The terraces would have been treated in a formal fashion and one may have been a bowling green. Because of the confined space around the castle, it is doubtful that the garden extended beyond the terraces.
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The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:
Reason for Inclusion
A formal terraced garden dating from the 15th to 17th century, with sublime 19th-century glen walks. Together with the architectural features, this landscape forms a spectacular composition, and makes a major contribution to the surrounding scenery. The designed landscape is also of outstanding nature conservation value.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
15th'17th and 19th century
Castle Campbell was acquired by the Campbells through marriage and became the lowland headquarters of the Campbell Earls of Argyll. It was favoured for its proximity to the royal strongholds of Stirling and Edinburgh. The early tower house was built towards the end of the 15th century, but the artificial nature of the ground upon which the castle stands suggests a motte-hill, similar to those introduced into Scotland by Anglo-Norman and Flemish settlers in the 12th century.
Colin Campbell, who became 1st Earl of Argyll in 1457, reached the highest offices of state, Master of the King's Household, Justiciar of Scotland south of the Forth, and in 1483, Lord High Chancellor. He was sent as ambassador to France in 1448 to renew the 'auld alliance'.
In 1466, a Papal Bull directed the Church against Walter Stewart of Lorne for his destruction of 'a certain manor with a tower of the place of Glowm situated in the territory of Dolar'. This is the earliest reference to the castle. Originally known as Castle Gloom, it was renamed Castle Campbell in 1489. It remained a Campbell possession until 1654.
Archibald, 4th Earl of Argyll, who fought at the Battle of Pinkie and the Siege of Haddington, is well-known for his conversion to Protestantism. In 1566, John Knox visited Castle Campbell and tradition has it that he preached to the local populace from a rock below the castle which became known as John Knox's Pulpit. This may be simply 19th-century hearsay, and associated with the laying out of picturesque walks in Dollar Glen.
Archibald, 1st Marquis of Argyll, played an important part in the Covenanters' cause. In 1645, Castle Campbell was burnt by the Macleans, a sortie party of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, but the castle remained in Campbell hands until nine years later and then fell at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. Little is recorded of the building thereafter. In the 18th century, in the Antiquities of Scotland, Francis Grose, described the castle's romantic situation as resembling:
'... one of those described in ancient romances, in which a cruel giant, assisted by a pagan necromancer, kept confined, and enchanted, a number of captive Knights and Princesses. Nothing can be more dreary than the scenes surrounding this building, which is seated on a steep peninsulated rock, between and under vast mountains, which overshadow it, having to the south a view through a deep glen, shagged with brushwood, and watered by a rivulet. From the dreary and solemn situation, this pile was formerly called the Castle of Gloom, and the names of the adjacent places seem analogous to it; for it stands in the parish of Dolor, was bounded by the Glen of Care, and washed by the Burn of Sorrow.'
In the early 19th century, George, 6th Duke of Argyll, sold the castle to Crawfurd Tate of the neighbouring Harvieston Estate. It was sold to the Globe Insurance Company in 1859 and then purchased later from them by Sir Andrew Orr. The Ordnance Gazetteer, 1882'5, describes the castle as 'greatly improved and extended in recent years', seemingly presenting a pleasant picturesque appearance. It was probably the Orrs who created the walks in Dollar Glen which are first recorded on the 2nd edition OS 1: 2500 (25'), 1895. Sir Andrew Orr's nephew, Mr J E Kerr, inherited the property in the early 20th century. In 1948, Mr Kerr offered the castle and the glen to the National Trust for Scotland. Historic Scotland accepted guardianship of the castle and the Trust accepted the glen on the understanding that sufficient money was raised towards its upkeep and improvement. The glen is now enjoyed by the public as a country park.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Open to the public
Dollar and Muckhart