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Torwood Castle: History, Mystery, and Architecture

Written by: Amanda
Published: 8th February 2019, last updated: 28th January 2019

Two miles north of the Stirlingshire town of Denny, close to the village of Torwood, lies the ruinous 16th century Torwood Castle.

A crumbling shell of what it once was, the lonely silhouette sits quietly in the countryside and the castle is not open to the public. But in recent years several bodies have attempted to restore Torwood Castle to its former glory, and it would seem all is not lost for what was once the seat of the ancient and noble Clan Forrester.

The L-shaped tower house is thought to date back to 1566, according to a stone which was found near the castle in 1918. However, much of Torwood Castle’s history remains a mystery.


A brief history of Torwood Castle

The Forresters were a clan of the Scottish Lowlands, however, the Stirlingshire branch of the clan were the Forresters of Garden who looked after Torwood: a royal hunting ground and forest. The clan had royal connections, and Duncan Forrester was the Comptroller of the Royal Household for James IV.

As a family, the Forresters worked with the land and provided timber for the King’s artillery. The role of forester became hereditary in the family, and it was Alexander Forrester who build Torwood Castle in 1566. The castle remained within the Forrester family up until the mid 17th century.

Little is known of what happened to Torwood Castle in the centuries which followed. Until 1946, when Gordon MacLachlan Millar bought the castle and dedicated 50 years of his life to its restoration.

Millar was passionate about preserving an important part of Scottish history, and when he passed away in 1998 the Torwood Castle Trust was set up to continue his work. However, in 2015, the trust ended and now the castle stands untouched.

Aerial View of Torwood Castle

Photo by Andrew Shiva / CC BY-SA 4.0


The architecture of Torwood Castle

The Scots Baronial style castle is made mainly from yellow sandstone. Interestingly, the 3-4 storey Torwood Castle displays architecture typical of both a castle and a mansion house.

Within the castle lies two spiral staircases – one in the narrow turret between the main range and north tower, and the other taking up most of the north tower itself. It has been hypothesised that the narrower staircase was for servants and the wider staircase for residents of the castle.

Outside, Torwood Castle has a courtyard enclosed on three sides, and the faint remains of what is believed to be a kitchen garden. There are also some fireplaces visible, which perhaps once belonged buildings standing against the castle itself. There is evidence of crow-stepped gables too.

Although Torwood Castle is listed as an ‘at risk’ building, large sections are incredibly well preserved and the castle isn’t beyond repair.

Torwood Castle ruin

Photo by Nigel J C Turnbull / CC BY-SA 2.0


The future of Torwood Castle

Unfortunately, at the moment, Torwood Castle is not open to the public, however, it’s possible that after some restoration it may once again open its doors. According to the Buildings At Risk website, Torwood Castle’s present owner has plans to rebuild the roof and stabilise the structure.


Visiting Torwood Castle

Larbert, FK5 4SWNon-applicableVisit Website

Torwood Castle can still be visited, however, we advise extreme caution as the castle is in ruins. You can still enjoy a nice walk around the main building and inside the ruined walls, which provide a fascinating yet eerie scene.

Torwood Castle Ruins

Photo by Robert Murray / CC BY-SA 2.0


Brought to you by Highland Titles

This article is part of our Guide to Scottish Castles, a collection of must-see castles in Scotland. Highland Titles mission is to conserve Scotland, one square foot at a time™. By selling souvenir plots of land, we are funding our Nature Reserves and conservation projects.

Read Guide to Scotland’s Castles


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About the author

Written by: Amanda

Comments on this post

  • Ian Moore
    24/06/19 - 05:13

    Hello Kathleen,
    I read your post about TORWOOD CASTLE.
    I am planning a tour of Scotland in September 2019 and would love to visit this site.
    I am aware that it is privately owned and do not wish to trespass on the land.
    Is there a contact locally who we can call to check that a visit is ok.
    Thank you for any advice you can offer.
    Regards, Ian Moore.

  • chris mize
    05/08/19 - 07:36

    I am a Descendent of the Forrester clan and the Bruce. Is there anyone that I can contact with questions.

  • Adelle boa
    25/09/19 - 13:02

    Hello, Chris mize my email address is [email protected] if you could contact myself I have a friend that maybe able to help with questions.

  • Hayes Forrester
    15/10/19 - 03:31

    Hello, my wife & I just visited the castle In Oct 2019, it is privately owned , the person restoring the castle lives there at the moment .
    He did give us a tour & was very kind, also knowledgeable about the castles history. He does have a donation box at the door to help with restoration cost.

  • Craig Forster
    14/11/19 - 00:52

    I am visiting next August and would like very much to visit the site. Can anyone tell me who the current owner is? Can I make prior arrangements with owner
    prior to my arrival? Thank you.


    Craig Forster

  • Ian Pratt
    07/03/20 - 11:05

    The castle for a short period of time was left open to all and being vandalised however it is no longer under the trust but belongs to a private individual who like Gordon Miller is restoring the castle. If you visit the castle and meet him he will happily take you on a tour of the inside for a voluntary donation that goes towards the restoration. He is very passionate about the castle and it’s history going further back than 1566 the alleged date of it being built and there is a lot of fascinating feature’s inside. As the castle is quite remote and off the beaten track it has to be locked up to prevent anyone entering and any unwanted vandalism.

  • Melanie Brooks
    16/03/22 - 04:22

    I am also a descendent of these Forresters. 9th generation USA. That forefather married an Irish Lass by the maiden name of Justice & brought her here. After him but, before me the line was married also with the Campbells. (Same but, lost & distant to me – from the House of Argyle). My father has done quiet a bit of research & our line (Also, according to traces back to the kings of Franks)

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