Many ancient families are associated with omens and signs that traditionally tell of death or illness in the family line. These omens range from radiant boys, banshees, phantom drummers and various animals. The Kirkpatrick family who inhabited Closeburn Castle have their own specially symbol of misfortune: that of a swan with a bloody breast, relating to an old family story.
Many years ago two swans used to visit the castle, and at least twice their appearance heralded the miraculous recovery for ill members of the family. The swans came to be regarded as good luck tokens swans until Robert Kirkpatrick cruelly shot one through the breast with a crossbow bolt. Thereafter the apparition of a swan with a bleeding breast heralded a death or misfortune in the family.
The current mansion incorporates a 14-century tower, which was in the hands of the Kirkpatrick family from the 13th century to the 18th century.