The abandoned ruins of Lennox Castle

Lennox Castle is an impressive ruin, lost in the woods, gleaming in winter sunshine and overlooked by the snow dusted Campsie Fells.

The ruin itself overlooks Celtic FC’s training ground. It’s a bizarre juxtaposition. Do the players, training for their next match, ever look up and wonder? Do they hear the cries of the former residents drift down on the breeze?

The castle was built in the 1830s. In the early 20th century it was transformed into a psychiatric hospital. At the time it was considered ahead of its time but it became overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded. It was less of a mental health institution and more of a dumping ground for society’s problems: truants, unmarried mothers, wayward teenagers and children with learning difficulties. Abuse and neglect was rife. Those who ran away were chased by dogs through the woods. Patients could be drugged and dumped on mattresses. Other patients recall being hit by baseball bats as they ran around the castle barefoot for failing to address a member of staff as sir. In December 1989, a study in the British Medical Journal found a quarter of patients in Lennox Castle were grossly underweight and malnourished.

The hospital finally closed its doors in June 2002 after a phased closure and resettlement of the residents.Yet exploring this ruin there was no sense of its dark and sad history, partly because history and the personal has been stripped away, and partly because of the sunlight streaming through the arches windows and gaps where the ruin has collapsed. The most ominous notes were the top-heavy pieces of building that look like they could slice away at any minute, and walking into the darkness of a storage bunker.

The ruins were not entirely a shell. There were some intact services rooms and a staircase to nowhere that looked ready to collapse. There were the remains of an entrance hall that hinted at grandeur. There was a rusty remains of a fire stairway running up the side of the central block, over and into thin air where once there was a roof to support it. Someone had made the considerable effort to tie a long rope and hang a tyre from it.

Of course I had a go. Only once I tripled-checked my weight was not going to bring the stairway down on me from a great height.

Further links

‘Wretched and dehumanising’: the sad secrets of Glasgow’s abandoned mental hospital

The sad secrets of Glasgow’s abandoned mental hospital

Patients hidden away for years at Lennox Castle mental hospital turn to art to heal wounds

Lennox Castle Stories

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11 thoughts on “The abandoned ruins of Lennox Castle

    • It does have a tragic history but now that it’s such a ruin you don’t get that sense of it. If I had visited a say about 20 years ago it might have been quite eerie. Maybe because I visited on such a beautiful sunny day.

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    • It is quite shocking when you read the all too recent history. I was very careful to test the weight of the swing. I do have my limits – there was an internal stairway that looked like it was about to collapse under the weight of fallen rumble. I was not climbing on that and adding my weight!

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  1. Thanks for this. I live locally to the site and have watched it crumble away over the years. back in the nineties the old building was shut down but quiet intact. I remember peering into through the main doors and windows. The rest of the site was still there, more modern housing blocks curving down the hill. It was weird taking the bike down this road when it had closed.
    Did you find the old folly ruin near the castle? I can also recommend taking the obvious path- I think it may have a semi-derelict sign to a view point called Lovers Leap where the view of valley beneath the Campsie Hills opens up with surprising speed.
    A local man who became an academic made some great programmes for the OU about the castle

    I don’t know if you have linked to them, but they are well worth a watch if you haven’t

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    • Thanks for stopping by. I did find what I think is the folly about 100 metres from th e castle which is rapidly being taken over by trees and ivy. I didn’t find Lovers Leap so that sounds an intriguing thing to seek out next time I am in tha area. Might be good to go back in autumn when those woods will be beautiful. Thanks for those links as well – will watch those when the all this lovely weather goes!

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      • There is also a small stone uilt keeper’s cottage in the woodland behind d the castle if you are heading back. Worth a look in itself and it will definitely have you pondering about who lived there…
        The OU videos are indeed well worth the watching- the academic who produced them is, if I recall correctly, from Lennoxtown and a former mental health nurse who began his career in ‘The Castle”

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