The name is Viking-inspired. It is normally taken to mean 'tower of Thor [Norse god] in the wood'.
The ruinous castle was built in the fourteenth century and added to in the fifteenth.
The Kirkpatricks were its first occupants, followed by the Carlyles.
In the 1470s Torthorwald was created a burgh of barony.
The present kirk was built in the 1780s (though later extended) when an earlier building was demolished.
There has been a kirk here probably since about 1200.
The village has a rare example of a cruck-framed cottage.
The whole building is constructed around and supported by three huge oak trusses resting on
the ground and held in place by foundation boulders. The great advantage of this technique is that
the walls need be only infill, not load-bearing. Traditionally this type of house was thatched with
straw laid on a lining of turf. This one was faithfully restored in the early 1990s.
John Gibson Paton
A similar cottage, that was adjacent until it was demolished in 1948,
was the childhood home of the controversial nineteenth-century Christian missionary
John Gibson Paton.
Paton spent his early working life in the weaving trade of his father before embarking on the attempted
conversion of the South Pacific islands then known as the New Hebrides.
When Paton re-visited Torthorwald in the 1880s he reckoned that up to seventy cottages of the cruck
design had been either demolished or substantially altered since his childhood.