Hoddom and the Repentance Tower

Keepers Cottage, Hoddom

We spent this year’s May Day Holiday weekend in a converted gamekeeper’s cottage on the Hoddom Estate, between Lockerbie and Annan in Dumfries and Galloway. Nice views roundabout, and the NEIGHbours were friendly.

On Trailtrow Hill behind the cottage stands Repentance Tower (1565), so called after the inscription above its door. There are several potential explanations for the name, including that the builder, John Maxwell, 4th Lord Herries, had unwisely used stone from the Trailtrow Chapel that once stood on this site in the construction of Hoddom Castle, with the result that Alexander Gordon, Archbishop of Glasgow, might have required that a watch tower be built in compensation. Alternatively, Maxwell might have been repenting the death of fourteen Scots who were held at Carlisle Castle. He had pledged not to fight the English, and when he broke this pledge the hostages were executed, so the tower could have been a monument to them. Whatever, he sounds like a nice chap.

The views from Trailtrow Hill are lovely – you can see right down to the castle, or what’s left of it: an old coach house. It’s now a caravan park which, when we were there, had a bar / restaurant in the Coach House. I see the bar has now closed, but fortunately we were able to sample the beer before that happened.

The River Annan runs through the estate: the Salmon Trail has some interesting signs.

The day after we arrived, we walked part of the riverside path between the village of Brydekirk and the town of Annan. There were two ruined footbridges en route which looked as though they had been swept away some time ago, though I read later they had been destroyed by severe flooding just six months before. We’ve seen a lot of trees down on our travels as a result of last winter’s storms, but these were the first bridges.

Annan itself is a handsome little town which celebrates former residents such as Robert the Bruce, Robert Burns and Thomas Carlyle. And, of course, has more beer.

The next day we learned about The Devil’s Porridge, but that will have to wait for another post. I didn’t actually expect to have a post ready this week, because I should have been on Jury Duty. However, after two and a half years of successfully avoiding it, Covid has finally got us both and we are isolating at home. Fortunately, our symptoms are mild (so far). And I know that Jury Duty will eventually get me too! They don’t give up and neither, it seems, does Covid.


  1. Interested to read about a Maxwell as my paternal grandmother was descended from Scottish Maxwells.
    At least you got out of jury duty but sorry you both got Covid. I got it too in the middle of last month (pretty sure I picked it up in London at the end of my UK trip). Had avoided it up to then despite being in close contact with other family members when they must have been infectious. All good now though. Hope you’re both feeling much better 🙂


  2. It was lovely to read about some old haunts from my childhood days. Back in the 60’s and maybe into the early 70’s you could go inside the Repentance Tower and climb up to the battlements. It was a fab view for miles around and across the Solway. The floor inside wasn’t very safe and I have a vague memory of a friend falling through the floorboards and breaking her arm. Maybe that was when they closed it to the public!
    Hoddom Woods was where we went to gather conkers every year.


  3. I seem to be over it or very nearly so, but Mary has it now. Luckily, she seems to be on the way to recovery by now. We both hope, of course, that there will be no later effects.


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