Orchardton Tower is a ruined tower house, located close to Palnackie, Dumfries and Galloway. It is the only cylindrical tower house in Scotland.
The tower was built by John Cairns sometime after 1455, after James II’s overthrow of the Douglases in 1455. Circular towers, or donjons, such as this were integral to 1200s strongholds like Bothwell Castle or Dirleton Castle, but they were replaced by square and rectangular tower houses. At Orchardton, Cairns built himself a round tower 200 years after they’d gone out of fashion.
By 1558, the lairdship was divided between three heiresses and the estate fragmented. The castle was sold in 1616 to Robert Maxwell, who had earlier bought the other portions of the estate.
The tower was located at the north east corner of the fortified yard, known as a barmkin, it would have sheltered livestock and provided cellars, a bakehouse, and probably a hall built on an upper level. The tower itself was used for living quarters; it was accessed via a stairway, from the barmkin up to a first floor doorway. The present entrance, on the north of the tower, was constructed in the 17th or 18th centuries. A new door was formed from an existing window and a permanent stone stair constructed.
Orchardton Tower is in the care of Historic Scotland as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.