MacLellan's Castle, Kirkcudbright - exterior in 2012
Other Stuff
This utterly charming eighteenth-century town house was once the home of E. A. Hornel, a renowned Scottish artist and one of the 'Glasgow Boys'. Even if you have no knowledge re who Hornel was, the house is still most certainly worth a visit; you just can't beat a look around other folk's houses, especially when they are old and jumbly and quite lovely. There are a number of paintings by Hornel on display in the house. Although Broughton House is only open from 1st April to 31st October each year (every day), the stunningly beautiful garden at the rear is open from 1st February to 31st October (Monday to Friday).
The Tolbooth Art Centre sits on the bend of Kirkcudbright's unique L-shaped High Street. To be perfectly frank with you, I am inclined to think that this L-shaped High Street is the result of some sort of blunder. Perhaps when the town was first being formed hundreds of years ago the men with spades and shovels built a High Street then turned a corner to find another group of men with spades and shovels who had also built a High Street. 'We canny hae twa High Streets, Hamish,' one of the foremen might have said. 'Hmm,' the other might have said. 'Wait, Jamesy... ah ken fit we'll dae. We'll join 'em thegither an' mak wan lang bendy High Street. It'll be unique, an' thoosands o' visitors will come tae Kirkcudbright tae see it.'
Tolbooth Art Centre sits in Kirkcudbright's old seventeenth century Tolbooth. Its tower was seemingly built using stones from Dundrennan Abbey, a structure that must as a result now lie in a state of some ruin. In 1698, in what was then a prison cell at the foot of the tower (now the foot of a spiral stair), Elspeth McEwan was imprisoned prior to being burnt at the stake for witchcraft. There is an information panel in what used to be the cell. It includes details of expenses incurred by the town council during preparation for Elspeth's execution...

Item for peits to burn Elspeth wt...
Item for towes [ropes to tie the poor creature to the stakes], small and great... [4 shillings]...

You have to wonder what mental anguish that poor woman endured in that tiny stone cell, kept naked by all accounts, knowing that from there she would be dragged off and set on fire. It is tempting to look back on those days and ponder how barbaric we were then. But even today you can read of occasional horrific things in the press, and you realise that we haven't really come that far at all.
The Tolbooth is interesting for a whole load of reasons. There are, for example, two metal jougs attached to the exterior stonework; one on the platform by the original entrance, and another near the right-hand corner of the building. Must have been a lot of naughty folk in Kirkcudbright's past.
A large ruinous castle in the very heart of the town. It dates to the late 16th century, and was once the home of Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie, whoever he was. Within its old crumbly rooms King James VI was once entertained, possibly with a joke or two, possibly not. By 1752 it had fallen into a roofless state of decay. Of course the thing about ruins is they are invariably fun to creep around. There are still stairs and rooms and much stone ammunition for your imagination. And speaking of ammunition, you may spot a gunport by the main door to the castle. This was to allow the man from Bombie to take a pop at anyone trying to sell him double glazing. [Castle only open in summer.]
Oh what a lovely old museum this is. It's a traditional museumy museum so typical of the form they took in the Victorian period with a main hall and an upstairs mezzanine balcony. The Stewartry Museum is full of stuff, everything from old bottles and jars, witch stones, cups and caskets, cards and clocks, guns, tobacco pipes and snuff boxes, match holders and so on. Their most famous item is apparently The Siller Gun, but it's just a wee thing and it didn't look all that interesting to me. The Siller Gun (or Silver Gun) is Britain's oldest surviving sporting trophy, dating to 1587 when it was presented to Kirkcudbright by King James VI, perhaps as a token of his appreciation for the hospitality afforded to him by the man from Bombie. It is awarded each year as the prize in a shooting competition.
Broughton House and garden, High Street, Kirkcudbright
The old entrance to the Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright
MacLellan's Castle, Kirkcudbright - home of Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie
Interior of The Stewartry Museum, St Mary Street, Kirkcudbright, in 2012
Old stonework, and the jougs, by the entrance to the Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright
Houses beside The Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright's High Street