Alloa Tower, which is Alloa’s oldest building, was built around 1368 by the Erskine family to guard the River Forth ferry. The Erskines were trusted aides to an unbroken line of ruling Stuarts, and guardians to the Royal children. Their name crops up again and again at pivotal moments in Scottish history: the First Earl of Mar was appointed Regent of Scotland; they fought in most of Scotland’s major battles; an Erskine accompanied the infant Mary, Queen of Scots to France for safety; and the 6th Earl of Mar played a role in the Act of Union. Mary rewarded the Erskines’ loyalty by bestowing the Earldom on them in 1565.
It was the 6th Earl who renovated the house in the early 1700s, inspired by the elegant villas he had seen on his Grand Tour of Europe. He added the Charter Room level with a new entrance, grand staircase and gallery. Work on the house was stopped while he was in exile in France following the ill-fated Jacobite uprising of 1715.A mansion was attached to the tower in 1680. This burnt down in 1800 and was rebuilt 38 years later. It then fell into ruin and was eventually pulled down around 1960. The tower was left derelict until 1988 when Clackmannanshire Council set up a preservation trust under NTS supervision. After an eight-year restoration project, the building was opened to the public in 1996.
Of special interest are the original oak roof beams, medieval groin vaulting, a pit dungeon and the original internal well. It was the home of the distinguished Erskine family, Earls of Mar, from the 15th century until c1800. By the late 17th century a mansion house and other buildings had been added. John, 6th Earl of Mar, made more changes, both modernising yet preserving the tower and mansion to complement an ambitious and extensive planned landscape around his home and stretching down to the River Forth. It was at this time the domed Italianate staircase leading to the Great Hall was added. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1800, but the solidly constructed tower survived. Alloa Tower Building Preservation Trust restored the tower carefully to its likely appearance in 1712, by which time many of the 6th Earl's improvements had been completed. The interior is splendid and there is a fine collection of Erskine family portraits and memorabilia on display. A DVD presentation on the ground floor tells the story of the tower and its restoration.
The Solar Room is perhaps the tower’s most atmospheric space, with its exposed stonework and magnificent timber ceiling, one of the few surviving medieval examples in a secular building in Scotland. There’s a lot to take in besides the tower’s architecture. Read up on the history of glass production in Alloa in a special exhibition, while another set of panels tells the story of the building’s painstaking restoration project. A model on this floor also shows the original vision for the mansion, complete with rooftop fishponds, statues and fountains. Clamber up to the tower’s roof, and follow the walkway all the way around to gaze out across nine counties.Guided tours for groups of up to 40 can be arranged, while the tower makes an excellent small wedding venue.
Parking at the door is possible by arrangement. The ground floor is accessible for wheelchair users; there are stairs to the Great Hall on the first floor. A narrow, steep, spiral staircase with a handrail leads to the remaining floors and roof-walk. The shop, toilet and refreshments area are all accessible. Slides of portraits and a film about the property are available. Large-print interpretation, and an audio-visual presentation with induction loop and subtitles are also available on request. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Alloa Tower, Alloa Park, Alloa, Central FK10 1PP
Transport: Alloa (National Rail) then bus or 15 minutes. Bus Routes : 60 and Mackies Coaches stop near by
Opening Times : April, September, October, Friday - Monday 12:00 to 16:00; May to August, Thursday - Monday 12:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £6.50; Concessions £5.00; Children (5 - 15) £5.00
Tel : 01259 211701