Featured image of Elphinstone Tower

The History of Elphinstone Tower

Elphinstone Tower, also known throughout time as Dunmore Tower or Airth Tower, is a gorgeous, ruined tower house on the Dunmore Estate in central Scotland. It is located roughly 1.5 kilometres northwest of Airth and around 9 kilometres east of Stirling in the Falkirk council area.

Nowadays, it is listed as a Category C listed building.

The history of Elphinstone Tower

Elphinstone Tower is currently in a dilapidated condition, beyond repair. Some people say that it is unlikely to survive many more winters. These ruins are the perfect example of how physical heritage can open up a whole world of information and stories to the local area.

It also gives people an idea of how others would have lived centuries ago. The tower itself that still remains is quite large. This shows the wealth of the local gentry who, at the time, could afford to build and live in such beautiful and grand houses.

The early history

Elphinstone Tower dates back to the early 16th century when it was built by Sir John Elphinstone to become the seat of the barony of Elphinstone. Alexander Elphinstone, 4th Lord of Elphinstone, added a beautiful gallery and a new hall before he passed in 1638.

Changing hands

In 1754, the Elphinstone Estate was purchased for £16,000 by John Murray, son of the 3rd Earl of Dunmore. It was only two years afterwards that he inherited the earldom. During this time, he took it upon himself to rename the estate Dunmore, after his own title.

Lord Dunmore is responsible for building the famous Dunmore Pineapple that resides elsewhere on the estate in 1761. The tower was extended at some point. However, there is very little evidence that it was ever occupied.

The construction of Dunmore Park

Sometime in the 1820s, the 5th Earl went forth and commissioned the building of Dunmore Park as the principal residence on the estate. The additions to the tower were completely demolished to make way for the St Andrew’s Episcopal Church. This was a private chapel completed in around 1850.

The tower was subsequently restored while the ground floor was remodelled as a family burial vault.

The current day

In 1911, the Murray family decided to leave Dunmore and the tower has been sitting in decay ever since. St Andrew’s Church was demolished in the early 1960s. The northwest angle of the tower collapsed in a storm around 1968.

The tower is now in a very sorry state and mostly hidden by bushes. The tower is permanently closed due to its ruined nature proving to be dangerous.

Elphinstone Tower Timeline

  • Early 16th century- Elphinstone Tower is built by Sir John Elphinstone to become the seat of the barony of Elphinstone
  • 1638- Alexander Elphinstone, 4th Lord of Elphinstone passes away after adding a beautiful gallery and a new hall
  • 1754- The Elphinstone Estate is purchased for £16,000 by John Murray, son of the 3rd Earl of Dunmore
  • 1761- Lord Dunmore is responsible for building the famous Dunmore Pineapple that resides elsewhere on the estate
  • 1820s- The 5th Earl goes forth and commissions the building of Dunmore Park as the principal residence on the estate
  • 1850- The construction of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church is completed
  • 1911- The Murray family decide to leave Dunmore and the tower is left to decay
  • 1960s- St Andrew’s Church is demolished
  • 1968- The northwest angle of the tower collapses in a storm

Elphinstone Tower facts

  • Elphinstone Tower is listed as a Category C listed building
  • The tower stands 9 by 7.4 metres (30 by 24 ft)
  • The tower walls are 17 metres (56 ft) high to the parapet
  • Elphinstone Tower is often referred to as Dunmore Tower or Airth Tower
  • The size of Elphinstone Tower shows the wealth of the local gentry who, at the time, could afford to build and live in such beautiful and grand houses

Tourism

Nowadays, it is basically impossible to take a look at Elphinstone Tower. The tower is permanently closed due to its ruined nature proving to be dangerous. It is hidden almost completely by large bushes and shrubs.

The crumbling remains of Elphinstone Tower tucked away in the woods of Dunmore Estate.
Elphinstone Tower“, by Neil Williamson, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nearby, you can visit The Dunmore Pineapple, Dunmore Park House, Kennetpans Distillery, Gartmorn Dam Country Park, Devilla Forest, and RSPB Black Devon Wetlands.


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