Elphinstone Tower – Dunmore, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Elphinstone Tower

Dunmore Estate

Built in the 16th century, the tower is now in ruins. 


Elphinstone Tower, also known as Dunmore Tower or Airth Tower, is a ruined tower house currently sitting within the Dunmore Estate. Originally, the tower would have had views across the low-lying ground to the River Forth. 

The tower dates to the early 16th century, when it was built by Sir John Elphinstone as the seat of the barony of Elphinstone. Before his death in 1638 Alexander Elphinstone, the 4th Lord of Elphinstone had added a gallery and a new hall to the tower.

In 1754, the Elphinstone Tower was purchased by John Murray, the son of the 3rd Earl or Dunmore, for the princely sum of £16,000. Two years later, John inherited the earldom, and renamed the estate Dunmore after his title. The tower was extensively refurbished at least twice in the 19th century, 

In the 1820s, the 5th Earl of Dunmore commissioned the building of Dunmore Park, which was to become the principal residence on the estate. Following this, the additions to the tower were demolished to enable the construction of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, a private chapel that was completed around 1850. The ground floor of the tower was then modified and remodeled as a family burial vault.

St. Andrew’s Church was demolished in the early 1960s, leaving the tower section standing alone. During the 1960s, it stood as a rectangular tower with four stories, each of which contained a single room. Then in a 1968 storm, the northwest angle of the tower collapsed. Today, the tower is complete only at the ground floor level, with the east side rising fairly complete, the corbeled-out bartizan rounds at the two corners still visible beneath the onslaught of ivy and overgrowth. Parts of the first floor walls to the north and the south can also still be seen, but the rest has collapsed.

The remains of Elphinstone Tower now stand at nine by seven meters, and the walls are 17 meters high to the parapet. The burial vault on the ground floor has been cleared out, and thankfully there are no bodies or coffins left. Behind the tower are a small grouping of gravestones. The burials within the churchyard predate this building.

Know Before You Go

Park at the carpark for the Pineapple and walk to the tower.

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October 7, 2022

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