Originally written for suite101.com and published on 18/05/09.
Arguably the least well known of all the Tower Houses which make up the Clackmannanshire Tower Trail; perhaps because Sauchie Tower, unlike its fellows, does not stand within the town with which it shares its name. The issue is further confused by there being several towns and villages in Clackmannanshire and in neighbouring Stirlingshire that bear a version of the name. Opinion is divided as to the reason why, but the tower now seems oddly isolated.
History of the Tower
The lands of Sauchie were granted to Henri de Annand – then Sheriff of Clackmannan – by King Robert Bruce in 1321. When his descendant Mary de Annand married Sir James Schaw in 1431 the land passed into that influential family, and the tower is thought to have been built shortly afterwards.
Sauchie tower was for a long time afterwards the seat of the Schaw family who maintained considerable royal favour over the years. The Exchequer Rolls from 1480 show a James Schaw to have served as tutor to the young James IV, while Charles I knighted Charles Schaw in 1633. Additionally the Schaw arms show three covered cups, due to their having been masters of the King’s Wine Cellar.
The complex was extended around 1460 to include a large hall for entertaining while around 1490 part of the west courtyard wall was remodelled to include a corner tower and gun holes. In 1631 this area was incorporated into a new house (Old Sauchie House), which became the main family residence until the family moved to their new mansion in Schawpark around 1710.
The tower itself remained in use for theatrical performances and other classes until around 1858 when the roof fell in. By 1890 the corner turrets and gables had collapsed and Old Sauchie House was demolished in 1930. Despite its currently somewhat dilapidated condition, the tower retains a certain imposing and impressive aspect.
Recent Restoration Work on the Tower
Although the tower spent the 1980s in the hands of a private owner who hoped to restore it, the tower has now passed into the ownership of the Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust. Since 1999, the Trust have carried out some repairs, restoring the roof to prevent further deterioration.
In 2002, the Friends of Sauchie Tower were formed to support the tower’s restoration and in 2004 they succeeded in obtaining a Heritage Lottery grant to increase community awareness and interest in the site and to carry out an archaeological investigation of the site. It is hoped that the excavation can be continued in the future along with more extensive restoration work on the tower itself.
Visiting the Tower and Directions
Sauchie Tower lies just off a minor road and is signposted from both the main A91 and the B9140. Lying approximately seven miles east of Stirling and about half a mile from the village of Fishcross. The turn off from the minor road is not signposted, so visitors should look out for the sign for an equestrian centre.
Due to the ongoing restoration and archaeological work the tower is only open during certain organised tours for Doors Open Day and Scottish Archaeology month in September. For further information or to help with the continuing project contact Clackmannanshire Council Museum and Heritage Service on 01259 216913 or The Friends of Sauchie Tower.