From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Sorbie Motte and Tower

Dumfries and Galloway
54° 47′ 37.9″ N 4° 24′ 40.97″ W
Late 16th Century

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Sorbie Motte and Tower are located 1 mile east of the village of Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway.

The motte is rectangular mound, thought to have been constructed in the 12th century, with rounded corners comprising a raised platform 54ft square with three very well-defined terraces, especially clear on the W side. Traces of a bailey were found along with a flying bridge were found in 1996. They also found traces of a structure built on top of the motte.

Sorbie Tower also know as the Old Place of Sorbie, was built in the late 16th century by Alexander Hannay of Sorbie. It is located within a plantation on a low rise which originally would have been surrounded by bog and marsh. Constructed in a L-shaped plan, above a vaulted basement there are three storeys with perhaps an attic in the roof space. The masonry is rubble with undressed quoins and simple chamfered sandstone dressings.

The Hannays were an important and influential family in Wigtownshire from at least the 13th century and appear to have held the lands of Sorbie from the mid 15th century. The family's fortunes declined during the late 16th century due to feuds and disputes with powerful neighbours such as the Murrays of Broughton, the Stewarts of Garlies and the Kennedys.

Most of the Sorbie estates were sold in 1626 to Sir Patrick Agnew, and the lands were later granted to the Stewarts of Garlies, who took possession of the tower in 1677. The last occupant was Brigadier-General John Stewart, M.P. for Wigtonshire in the British Parliament of 1707, who owned the tower until his death in 1748. The tower was left abandoned and fell into ruin.

Today the tower is owned and cared for by the Clan Hannay Society. Over the past ten years the Clan Society has stabilised the tower, which was unsound, and opened it to the public

Further restoration may take place, even though it has suffered stone mining and internal collapses in the past. Overall, the building remains reasonably complete and enough details remain to enable an authentic restoration.