The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Aglionby Platt Home
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

The Gatehouse website record of

Elshesheelse (Elshieshields Tower)

a location shown on a 1590 map of the West Marches of Scotland (The Aglionby Platt)

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as; Elchieshields; Elshieshield; Elsiechellis; Elsieshields

In the civil parish of Lochmaben.
In the historic county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
Modern Authority of Dumfries And Galloway, Scotland.
1974 county of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY06888503
Latitude 55.15082° Longitude -3.46259°

This is certain as the location of Elshesheelse shown on the Aglionby Platt.

There are major building remains.

This is a Category A listed building protected by law*.

The likely form(s) of this building in 1590 are;

  • Tower House (gentry).

A section of the 1590 Aglionby Platt. Image reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

(NY 0688 8503) Tower (NR). (OS 6" map (1957))
(L-plan tower of the fourth period). This picturesque tower stands on the banks of the Ae Water, about two miles northwards from Lochmaben. Its plan is that of a simple keep, with a square tower built at one of the angles to contain the staircase. It thus presents us with a plan intermediate between the simple keep and the L-plan.
The entrance door is on the ground floor, and is commanded by a shot-hole from the kitchen, which occupies the whole of that floor. The first floor contains the hall, with bedrooms on the two upper flats. The top storey is provided with dormer windows and large angle turrets, used as dressing-closets. The stair-tower is continued two storeys higher, and has a string-course and cornice ornamented with billet and cable mouldings. These features indicate that the tower dates from the beginning of the 17th century.
A very remarkable feature here is the watch-turret erected on the W gable of the staircase tower. It is corbelled-out and balanced on the gable top like the similar work at Amisfield (NX98SE 13), but in this case it is not covered in. Access is obtained by a ladder from the attic of the staircase tower, and there is just room inside the turret for a watchman to stand and look about him. The turret was no doubt originally provided with a beacon garting, the warning light from which would be seen for many miles round in that flat and marshy region. (D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92)
Elshieshield, a late 16th century three-storey tower with square stair-tower on N rising two storeys higher. The upper floors are modernised internally and a modern house has been attached. (RCAHMS 1920; N Tranter 1965)
A building of architectural interest as described. Visited by OS (JP) 5 October 1972
This L-plan tower-house, which dates to about 1600, forms the E adjunct of an 18th-century house, which has been remodelled and extended in the 19th and 20th-centuries. The tower-house consists of a main block and wing, the main block rising to three storeys in height, and the wing to five storeys. The masonry is of rendered rubble with freestone dressings which, except where remodelled, have roll mouldings. The entrance is in the re-entrant angle of the wing, and the doorway, which is wrought with a stout edge-roll, opens to a newel-stair rising the full height of the main block. Thereafter the stair is corbelled out over the re-entrant, giving access to the chamber and garret at the top of the wing. A cable-moulded string-course and dentilled eaves-cornice extend around the wing at the height of the chamber. The roof is slated, has crowstepped gables, and each of the vacant angles of the block is furnished with a corbelled round. Other features include a panel niche above the entrance (with nail-head ornament), and another in the E wall which retains the partially effaced arms of the Johnstone family. Visited by RCAHMS (IMS/JRS), 8 September 1993.
Listed as tower. (RCAHMS 1997) (Canmore)

16th century L-plan tower house with (altered) early 18th century S-facing 5-bay house adjoining W gable and intercommunicating at upper floors. Tower is harled, house is rendered; all with red ashlar dressings; slate roofs.
TOWER: possibly 1567 incorporating rectangular tower of 1420. 3 storeys, with attic; jamb (at E end of N wall) carried 2 storeys higher, with stair turret in re-entrant angle corbelled from near main eaves level; conical-roofed bartizans over 3 remaining angles. Some openings roll-moulded; crow-stepped gables. Door in re-entrant angle of jamb, panel recess above. Wheel stair fills lower storeys of jamb, tiny chambers to upper floors and rope and billet-mouldings, corbelled beacon platform over S gable, finial over N gable. Body of tower has vaulted basement, some evidence of possible original door at 1st floor level on E gable, with panel recess above. Asymmetrically arranged openings to elevations, single wallhead dormer at S. Coped end stacks, W stack rebuilt to incorporate flues of addition. cusped-headed aumbry on N wall.
HOUSE: originally 2 storeys, 5 regular and well-proportioned bays, chamfered margins. Alterations mainly late in 19th century: heightened a storey, with crowstepped gables, pedimented dormer heads above eaves level, canted ground floor windows added (porch possibly mid 19th century) gabled rear (N) stair turret. 2nd porch, to N, with Tudor-arched doorway, is earlier/mid 19th century. Mostly sash windows, upper S facing windows with 12-pane glazing pattern. Some good 18th century panelling survives in ground floor rooms. 19th century low recessed W wing is T-paln, its 3-bay S elevation exposed red sandstone. Walled garden to S of house, ashlar-coped rubble-built walls linked to tower at E and to low wing at W. Panelled and corniced square gatepiers to S, curved quadrants and cast-iron gates with spiked rails all earlier 19th century.
Notes Detached coach house range to N is excluded from listing. The rear door is shown as a window on the photograph in the INVENTORY. Elshieshields House up-graded B to A 4.10.88. (Listed Building Report)
The resident householder c. 1590.

Johnston, C.L., 1909, History of the Johnstones 1191-1909 with Descriptions of Border Life (Edinburgh) passim online copy
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Canmore   County HER       Listing
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Geology  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   Flashearth  
Photos >
Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, RCAHMS (or its successor Historic Environment Scotland), County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record created on 02/08/2015 09:33:01; This record last updated on 17/09/2015 10:42:41

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact