Clackmannan Tower stands on King’s Seat Hill, and stands in a site rich with royal connections. A royal residence might have existed here from the reign of Malcolm IV in 1053 to 1056, and a castle of Clackmannan is mentioned in a royal charter from the 1200s.

King David II, son of Robert the Bruce, granted Clackmannan to his kinsman Sir Robert Bruce in 1359. The earliest part of the existing tower seems to date from this period. Extensive alterations to the tower took place in the 1400s, including heightening of the tower and the addition of a second tower to the south, creating an ‘L’ plan. A mansion was added in the late 1500s or 1600s.

Clackmannan remained occupied by the Bruces until the late 1700s. By the end of that century the mansion and tower were abandoned, and the mansion was demolished in the early 1800s.

Katherine’s court

Katherine Bruce, who lived at Clackmannan until her death in 1791, was a remarkable figure. ‘As long as she lived … the Tower of Clackmannan was frequented by her numerous friends and acquaintances, of various rank, and various ages’.

One such visitor, on August 26, 1787, was the poet Robert Burns. Mrs Bruce mock-knighted Burns using the sword of her ancestor, Robert the Bruce. Mrs Bruce was a staunch Jacobite, and considered as much a relic of bygone days as her residence. The tower’s surrounding complex and the manshionhouse were demolished sometime before 1841.