The Kilted Photographer Visits...
The present castle was preceded by several fortifications in the area: a Roman fort on Ward Law Hill and a British hill fort that was in use around 950.
The earliest mention of the lands of Caerlaverock is around 1160, when they were granted to the monks of Holm Cultram Abbey. Around 1220 Alexander II of Scotland granted the lands to Sir John Maxwell, making him Warden of the West March. Sir John Maxwell also served as Chamberlain of Scotland from 1231–1233, and began work on the first castle at Caerlaverock. This castle was square in shape and was one of the earliest stone castles to be built in Scotland. It had a moat with a bridge facing north. Only the foundations and remains of a wooden enclosure around it remain.
This early castle may have been incomplete when it was abandoned in favour of a rock outcrop some 200 metres (660 ft) to the north. It was here that Sir John's brother Sir Aymer Maxwell began construction of the present castle. Sir Aymer also served as Chamberlain in 1258–1260, and was Justiciar of Galloway in 1264. In the 1270s the "new" castle was completed, and Herbert Maxwell, nephew of John Maxwell, occupied it.
Historic view of Caerlaverock Castle
When the moat around the second castle was dug, the quarrying was probably a source of building stone for the castle. While the gatehouse stands on natural rock, the rest of the castle was built on a clay platform created especially for the castle.