When I inherited Elshieshields from my uncle, the historian Sir Steven Runciman, in 2000, I knew little about the house and its surroundings.  Living here for the past 20 years has opened my eyes to the rich history of this area and of the people who lived at Elshieshields before me.  And I’ve learned as well to appreciate the peace and beauty of the Annandale countryside, its woods, skies and birdlife and ever-changing light.  

Once the fortress home of a branch of the Annandale Johnstons, Elshieshields Tower has had a long and stormy history. Continuously inhabited for 600 years this ancient building has witnessed war and murder, times of prosperity as well as moments of personal tragedy and economic ruin. In recent times it was Steven Runciman’s much loved home. He kept his library in the tower rooms and found here the tranquillity to write several of his major works.

Today, visitors are welcome for retreats and study periods: the Upper Room in the tower houses a specialist library on theology and Christian spirituality, with particular emphasis on Russian Orthodoxy.The Bothy offers self-contained space for someone seeking respite from a busy live or for a personal retreat or time of study. Day visitors are welcome as well as those coming for longer stays. The Barn is available for day groups. The Oratory in the cottage yard is always open for private prayer.

The Grounds: Visitors are welcome to roam in the 20 acres of mixed woodland, explore the banks of the Water of Ae (bathing for the hardy in summer!) Paths, often muddy! – lead round the grounds. Elshieshields woods are home to much wild life including red squirrels.

Tours of the tower can be arranged for special interest groups (family history, architectural history, Scottish history) though numbers have to be limited because of narrow staircases. See Historic Houses code ELSH80 on their website. 

Elshieshields is 6 miles from the M74 and 7 miles from Lockerbie railway station.

©️Benedict Ramos