Clackmannan Tower resides at the summit of King's Seat Hill, a short walk from the town of Clackmannan. It was built in the 14th century by King David II, son of Robert the Bruce, before granting it to his kinsman, Sir Robert Bruce, in 1359. The first tower was built as a two-story house in 1365 by a member of the Bruce family.
In the 15th century, extensive alterations to Clackmannan Tower took place, including heightening the existing tower to five stories and adding a second tower to the south, creating an L-plan castle with a crenelated parapet with machicolations. A mansion was also added sometime in the late 16th century. In the 17th century, a moat, drawbridge, and surrounding walls were added.
The Bruce family occupied the castle until the late 18th century, following the death of Katherine Bruce, who lived at Clackmannan Tower until she died in 1791. Katherine entertained friends and acquaintances at Clackmannan, including the poet Robert Burns who visited in August of 1787 when she mock-knighted Burns using the sword of her ancestor, Robert the Bruce.
By the end of the 18th century, the tower and mansion were abandoned, with the mansion being demolished sometime in the early 1800s. Stonework from the mansion may have been used to construct the Parish Church, built in 1815.
Despite demolishing most of the castle complex except the first tower dating from the 15th century, Clackmannan Tower is still impressive, rising five stories in height. Due to its location on the summit of King's Seat Hill, it can be seen for miles.
It is free to roam around the grounds, but the tower is currently closed to visitors. It is still worth a visit, but a bit of a walk from town. Parking in town is also a challenge as only a few spaces are available at the busy end of the High Street.
You can visit the Clackmannan Tower thoroughly in about an hour. To make a full day of visiting castles, Alloa Tower, Castle Campbell, and Stirling Castle are an easy drive from Clackmannan.