Pollok Castle

Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) undertook work on the Pollok Castle site and history in 2000 and much of what is known is based upon this work (Ballin Smith and MacGregor 2000). The historic maps are one of the best sources for the history of Pollok Castle. The castle seems to appear on Pont’s map (1583-96), as a castle named ‘Pook’. It also appears on Blaeu’s map of 1654.

The structure was originally a simple tower house, thought to be medieval in date. During investigations by GUARD, an area of mortared stonework with dressed faces was discovered overlying bedrock. Further analysis revealed this to be the remains of a stone foundation for the pre seventeenth century tower house (Ballin Smith and MacGregor 2000).

Pollok Castle was rebuilt between 1686 and 1694 by Sir Robert Pollock. The south and east walls of the earlier tower house were removed and what remained of the structure was incorporated into a wing extending to the east. The structure was gradually extended over the years to include an enclosing courtyard with an ornate gateway leading into a walled garden to the south. This garden was very formal, with high walls and corner pavilions.

Pollock Castle after the fire. Roy’s map (1747-55) shows the castle in detail and the associated policies at their most extensive. It is set within a designed and landscaped garden, with formal pathways and avenues and structured planting. The gardens extend across the Brock Burn to the west. Richardson’s map (1795) records the name ‘Over Pollock’, associated with a Miss Pollock, while Ainslie’s map (1800) uses the name ‘Upper Pollock’ but again records the owner as Miss Pollock. Ainslie depicts a reduced designed landscape; the policies seem to all lie on the east side of the Brock Burn by this time (1800).

The first edition Ordnance Survey map (1858-64) shows the castle and grounds in detail, including the formal walled garden with corner pavilions. There are possible vegetable gardens to the east and woodland beyond that (Ballin Smith and MacGregor 2000). All four editions of the historical Ordnance Survey maps refer to the castle as Pollok, rather than Pollock.

The house was destroyed by fire in 1880, but photographs of the building both before and after the fire survive. The house was rebuilt in 1886 in the Scottish Baronial style, incorporating some of the surviving elements of the earlier structure.

The castle was requisitioned by the British army in 1939, but one wing of the house was occupied by the Pollock family throughout the war. The estate was apparently used as an ammunition dump throughout this period. The house continued to be inhabited until 1944, when Miss Ferguson Pollock moved out and it was finally abandoned. The poor condition of the building required that it be demolished less than ten years later, in 1952. The majority of stone from the castle was sold and used as hard core for an airfield runway. Subsequently, it is believed that several prefabricated houses were constructed on the site to form one large structure, but this was removed by the late 1970s. The site now contains a private residence, although one or two visable traces of the castle still remain.