History of Rockhall
Rockhall, located six miles east of Dumfries, is an altered tower house which dates from the 16th century. This was home to Sir Robert Grierson of Lag, a notorious persecutor of Covenanters.
There was a chapel near Rockhall Mote which is mentioned in 1223
when it was in the possession of William of Glencairn. At the end of the
13th century or the beginning of the 14th Robert, son of Robert de Brus
Lord of Annandale, granted the chapel of Rockhall to the church of St Mary
When the first tower was built at Rockhall is not known, however the estate
originally belonged to the Kirkpatrick of Closeburn family. In 1412 Gilbert
Grierson, 2nd of Lag, married Isabel Kirkpatrick, daughter of Sir Duncan
Kirkpatrick of Torthorwald, and Rockhall eventually passed to their son
Vedast Grierson and so into the Grierson family with whom it would remain
until the 1950s.
It seems likely that a tower was built either by the Kirkpatricks or the
Griersons in the 15th century and this is represented by the westernmost
part of the current building. The tower was oblong on plan and aligned
approximately north to south. Thick walls enclose a vaulted basement
chamber, lit by slit windows, with an internal floor area measuring around
3.7m by 2.7m.
In 1526 James V erected the lands of Rockhall into a feudal barony for
John Grierson of Lag. Late in the 16th century the tower was extended to
the east, tripling the length of the building, with two storeys over a
vaulted basement to match the original tower. Sir William Grierson of Lag
was knighted by James VI in 1608 and a sasine by Grierson to his wife,
Nicholas Maxwell, daughter of William Maxwell, 5th Lord Herries of
Terregles, in 1610 states “All and haill the place of Rockhall laitlie
biggit be the said Sir William”. This may refer to the aforementioned
extension or possibly to further remodelling early in the 17th century.