Alloa Tower is one of the largest free-standing tower houses in Scotland. It was the ancestral home of the powerful Erskine family who are Earls of Mar and Kellie. The tower is open to the public and contains displays from the Earl of Mar's personal collection.
The Earls of Mar were powerful Lords who have played a prominent and important role in Scottish history.
The Erskines were trusted aides to the Stuart kings of Scotland and guardians of the royal children. John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar, was regent of Scotland for King James V and afterwards protected Mary, Queen of Scots. John Erskine, the 6th Earl, was a signatory to the Treaty of Union and one of the instigators of the 1715 Jacobite uprising.
The tower has seen many royal visits and the young James VI lived here for a time.
Alloa Tower was built around 1368 to protect the ferry crossing the River Forth. The first Earl to stay at the tower was Sir Robert Erskine who had served as the great Chamberlain of Scotland in 1360.
The tower has modified and updated a quite a few times over the years. In 1680 Charles Erskine, 5th Earl of Mar, added a mansion house to the side of the tower.
The 6th Earl renovated the house in the early 1700s. Like many of his peers he had been on a Grand Tour of Europe and he brought back a number of architectural ideas from his trip. He added a grand Italianate staircase, renovated the Great Hall and added the Charter Room level.
Tragically the mansion house burned down in 1801, killing Lady Erskine in the process. The tower was left as a ruin for a number of years. Dragoons used the tower ruin as a stable for their horses. The tower was rebuilt 38 years later, but the last remnants of the mansion house were cleared away in the 1960s.
The castle remained in the Erskine family until 1988 when James Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar, put the tower into a trust for restoration and public access.
Clackmannanshire Council and the National Trust undertook and lengthy and detailed restoration project that lasted for eight years and today the tower is open to the public.
Today you can still see some of the medieval fabric. The Solar Room has exposed medieval stonework and superb timber ceiling. The Dungeon in the basement is of medieval origin too.
The National Trust looks after the tower and they have a range of facilities for visitors. Tea and coffee are available as is a small shop. The tower can cater for group visits and can offer guided tours by arrangement.
Exhibitions at the tower include a number of displays incorporating items from the Earl of Mar's collection. There is a short film about the history of the tower, along with a number of information boards about the restoration project.
Alloa Tower can also serve as a venue for weddings and corporate functions and the Trust run various events at the site throughout the year.
Status: Visitor Attraction / Heritage Site / Wedding Venue
Owner: National Trust for Scotland
Tel: 0844 493 2129
Opening Times: 23rd March to 29th Apr Fri-Mon 1pm-5pm / 3rd May to 31st August Thu-Mon 1pm-5pm / 1st September to 28th October Fri-Mon 1pm-5pm
The entrance to Alloa Tower
View from the battlements at the tower