TORWOODLEE CASTLE Location - OS map 73 (NT 467-378)
About 2 miles north and west of Galashiels on minor roads north of the A72 at Torwoodlee, about 1.5 miles north-east of Clovenfords.
Torwoodlee was a property of the Pringles from 1501. There was probably an early 16th C tower on this site. It was sacked by the Elliots in 1568. Torwoodlee Tower today consists of a large ruined 17th C. tower house built in 1601 for George Pringle, and was abandoned in 1783 for nearby Torwoodlee House.
Torwoodlee is ruinous. It is of two storeys and an attic, within a courtyard. The wall of the courtyard was pierced on the south side by gun loops. The main building is on the west side of the courtyard. The entrance is in a centrally positioned round tower, which is corbelled out to square and crowned by a watch-chamber.
The entrance passage led to several vaulted cellars in the basement. With the northern vault probably containing the kitchen. Directly opposite the entrance was a straight stair which crossed the house to a landing in the west wall. The landing allowed access to the first floor rooms to the north and south ends.
HILLSLAP TOWER Location - OS map 73 (NT 513-394)
About 3 miles north and east of Galashiels on minor roads north of the A7, near (within hailing distance of) Langshaw Tower and Colmslie Tower, south of Allan Water.
Hillslap was a property of the Carncors or Cairncross family, there is no known reason as to why this tower was built so close to the two Borthwick owned towers. The old bridle path between Melrose and Soutra passes here. Walter Scott used Hillslap in his novel "The Monastery" calling it Glendearg. It was re-roofed and restored n the 1980's.
Further structures have been added including a courtyard and gatehouse with entrance pend.
Hillslap Tower is a 16th century L-plan tower house of four storeys and stands on a rocky knowe. It consists of a main block and a stair-wing, which rises a storey higher. A stair-turret projects from above first-floor level in the re-entrant angle. The "squinch" arch that supports the stair turret is an unusual feature for a border tower. The walls are pierced by gunloops. The tower has a courtyard with a range of buildings. A doorway has been opened through the wall of the tower at first floor level to connect with the new range.
The entrance lintel is inscribed with the initials N.C. and E.I. with the date 1585. It is protected by gunloops and leads to the main stair which climbs to the large hall on the first floor of the main block. The basement is vaulted. Access to the floor above the main hall is by the turnpike stair in the turret within the re-entrant. There are similarities between this tower and Greenknowe tower in Berwickshire.
COLMSLIE TOWER Location - OS map 73 (NT 513-396)
About 3 miles north-east of Galashiels on minor roads north of A7 at Colmslie, near Hillslap Tower and Langshaw Tower, north of the Allan Water.
Colmslie takes its name from the former nearby chapel of St.Columba. It was originally owned by Melrose Abbey. It became a property of the Borthwicks but passed to the Carncors or Cairncross family who built the tower. It was probably William Carncors, mentioned in 1536 and alive in 1550, who built the existing ruined tower. It was acquired by the Pringles in the 17thCentury.
Colmslie Tower is a very ruined rectangular 16th century tower house. It is constructed in rubble with sandstone dressings many of which are now missing.
The Basement is vaulted and part of a turnpike stair survives in the north-east corner. The first floor seems to have been divided into two rooms. The hall at the west end had a fireplace and storage recess with three windows in the side walls. The east end had a narrow kitchen with one side window and a large fireplace with a sink and oven in the east end. The second storey may have been subdivided but there is only one fireplace in the east end. This level has two large windows with seats in the recess. A mural chamber and latrine is situated between the windows on the south wall.
LANGSHAW TOWER Location - OS map 73 (NT 516-397)
About 3.5 miles north-east of Galashiels on a minor road north of the A7, near Colmslie Tower and Hillslap Tower, north of Allan Water.
Langshaw was originally a property of Melrose Abbey. It was held by the Borthwick family. In 1606 James Hoppringle of Woodhouse sold Langshaw to Sir Gideon Murray. From 1609 to 1617 the property was held by John, Earl of Haddington. It was then sold to the Murrays and was sold in 1619 to Elizabeth Dundass of Arniston, although she was already the prospective second wife of Sir Patrick Murray who was the heir to the property. In the 18th C the house was used as the village school and soon fell into ruin. A new little schoolhouse was built close by.
Little remains of a late 16th century L-plan tower house formerly of three storeys and a later extension. Only two corners remain of the original tower. More of the extension remains. Part of a semi-circular stair turret covered the join between the two buildings. The extension was not vaulted but contained a kitchen at ground floor level. The kitchen fireplace occupies most of the east wall. The walls still standing show evidence of several lean-to structures. The land adjoining the tower is enclosed by an extensive wall. The remains of further walling can be seen.
DARNICK CASTLE Location - OS map 73 (NT 532-343)
About 0.5 miles west of Melrose just south of A7, south of the River Tweed at Darnick.
Darnick was a property of the Heiton family, the earlier structure of 1425 (Fishers Tower) was burnt and "cast down" by the Earl of Hertford in 1545. Darnick was rebuilt in 1569. Sir Walter Scott tried hard to own this house but the Heiton laird refused to sell. Scott became nicknamed the Duke of Darnick by his close friends. It is still occupied.
Darnick is a tower house of three storeys and a garret within a corbelled-out parapet, which incorporates a 15thC castle. A projecting square tower of four storeys is crowned by a caphouse and watch-chamber. There is a later two storey wing and the building was altered again in the 19th C. The entrance is at the foot of the stair-tower. It is protected by an iron yett and a heavy iron studded door. On the lintel are the initials A.H. and K.F. for Andrew Heiton and his wife Kate Fisher with the date 1569. These are accompanied by the sacred monogram I.H.S. and above is the bulls head crest of the Heitons. Mary Queen of Scots granted them a new charter of the lands when she was in the district in 1566.
The basement, which contained a kitchen, was formerly vaulted. This collapsed in the 1780's and was replaced by a wooden floor. The turnpike stair rises to parapet level with the stair head being vaulted. The small watch-chamber above also vaulted, access to this is by a mural stair in the thickness of the walling. The space above the watch chamber was utilised as a dovecot. The hall on the first floor has a large fireplace and a window recessed for seats. The walling of the stair at this level incorporates a stone sink with external spouts.
AIKWOOD TOWER Location - OS map 73 (NT 420-260)
About 4 miles west and south of Selkirk south of B7009, east of the Ettrick Water.
It is said by some that this was the birthplace of the 13th century "wizard" Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie. Little is known of his life, but he is said to have studied at Oxford, Paris, Padua and in Toledo in 1217. He translated works of Aristotle and was reputedly associated with the Emperor Frederick. Michael Scott, heir of Robert Scott, received a feu charter of a forest stead here from the Dowager Queen Margaret Tudor. In 1541 James V granted him and his wife Isobel Ker a new charter which refers to the manor, tower and other buildings constructed by him. That building was probably wrecked by the English soon afterwards. The tower was previously known as Oakwood and was known as a property of the Scotts of Harden in the 16th C. In the 16th C the property belonged to Wat Scott of Harden a famous borderer. The existing tower belongs to this period. The tower was ruinous in the 19th century but has been restored and is occupied by our SCA President.
Aikwood is a rectangular 16th century tower house of three storeys and an attic without a parapet. A datestone that was previously a fireplace lintel carries the date 1602 and the initials of Robert Scott and his wife. This stone now forms a 3rd storey window lintel. Two corbelled-out square turrets with gables crown the north-east and south-west corners of the tower, these are supported on elaborate corbelling. The steeply pitched roof has corbiestepped gables. There are dormers with decorative pediments. The entrance doorway at ground level is arched and moulded. An iron-studded door retained its tirling pin.
The entrance opens into a lobby which leads into the vaulted basement and a wide turnpike stair. The newel of this stair is interesting in being particularly thick. The hall on the first floor is a large room with an elaborate fireplace, three amburies and a garderobe. The upper floors contain private chambers.
LANTON Location - OS map 74 (NT 618-215)
About 2 miles north-west of Jedburgh on minor road south of the A698 at Lanton.
The tower was sacked in 1513, after Flodden, by Sir Roger Fenwicke. It was not rebuilt immediately and so escaped the comprehensive destruction by Hertford in 1544. With the Lanton property went the office of Crowner of Roxburgh. It was a property of the Cranstons in 1627, but had passed to Douglas of Cavers by 1687. It was restored in 1989.
Lanton Tower is an altered 16th cetury tower house, rectangular in plan, of three storeys and a garret to which has been added a modern mansion. Many windows have been enlarged and the upper part has been altered, including the addition of a gablet. It is possible that the existing roof level is as the original. At ground level there is a doorway in the south gable that has been built up to a window, it has a slit aperture above. The basement has been vaulted and two gunloops pierce the wall to the west.
FERNIEHURST CASTLE Location - OS map 80 (NT 653-179)
About 1 mile south of Jedburgh on minor road east of the A68, east of the Jed Water.
Ferniehirst was a property of the Kerrs. Ralph Kerr settled in Teviotdale about 1350 and his seventh descendant is designated of Ferniehirst in 1467. This earliest castle was possibly built around 1470 but was eventually taken and sacked in 1523 by the English under Dacre, after a valiant defence by the famous Dand Kerr. His son Sir John Kerr recaptured it with French help in 1549, and the leader of the English garrison was beheaded. His son Sir Thomas Kerr, protector of Mary, Queen of Scots, invaded England in 1570 hoping to have her released, but all that resulted was a raid on Scotland, during which Sussex Sacked Ferniehurst in 1571. James VI destroyed the castle in 1593 because of help given by the family to the earl of Bothwell. The castle was rebuilt in 1598. After the union of the crowns the Laird of Ferniehirst's two sons were created Earl of Somerset and Lord of Jedburgh. From the latter the Lothian line descended. Between 1938 and 1984 it was leased by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, except during World War II when it served as an army billet.
Ferniehurst consists of an extended and altered late 16th C tower house which incorporates the cellars from the much larger earlier castle. In the 17th C the long east wing was added, this has the appearance of having been reduced in height to the current 3 storeys. The oldest portion is the tall L-shaped tower forming the north-west angle. The tower rises to four storeys and an attic, the two northern angles having circular corner turrets or bartizans with shot holes. A large conical-roofed stair-turret rises in the re-entrant angle. It is interesting to note that while it would have been simpler to raise the stair turret from ground level, the builders have chosen to demonstrate their building ability by elaborately corbelling the turret out from the main structure just above ground level. The doorway is in the re-entrant, and is surmounted by three heraldic panels bearing the arms of Kerr and Lothian. Other panels grace the courtyard entrance and the doorway to the basement chambers of the long east wing.
The original entrance leads to a stair known as the "Left-Handed Staircase", the story being that when Sir Andrew Kerr who was himself left-handed, returned from Flodden in 1513 he had his followers trained to use their weapons in their left hands. This is said to be the origin of "Corrie-fisted" or "Kerr-handed". The main doorway leads to the foot of a handsome scale and platt timber stair which rises to the first floor. The floors above this level are reached by the turret stair. The basement of the 17th C wing has six vaulted cellars. The third of the vaults is entered from an outer doorway in a peculiar feature which forms a porch at ground level, a projection housing a stairway in the centre and a chimney stack on top. The 16th C tower has a vaulted basement, with a straight stair leading to the original hall on the first floor which is a well lit apartment. The 17th C wing has an enormous "Great Hall" on its first floor. There is a huge fireplace to the north with another at the east end. From here access is gained to a smaller chamber at the east end of the wing. Beyond this is another small room in the circular tower, which projects at the extreme south-east angle. This room is known as the library and is richly panelled and has an elaborately carved wooden ceiling.
GREENKNOWE CASTLE Location - OS map 74 (NT 639-428)
About 0.5 miles west of Gordon just west of a lay-by on the A6105
Greenknowe passed by marriage in the 15th C from the Gordons to the Seatons of Touch who built the castle. In the 17th C it was acquired by the Pringles of Stirchel one of whom, Walter, was a noted Covenanter. The tower was occupied by the Fairholms, until abandoned around 1850.
Greenknowe was built for comfort as well as defence. It is a 16th century L-plan tower house. It bears the date of 1581 and the initials of its builders James Seaton of Touch and his wife Janet Edmonstone. It consists of a main block of four storeys and a higher wing. Three of the corners had bartizans and the walls are pierced by gunloops.
The entrance in the re-entrant angle still has an iron-yett. It leads to the main turnpike stair to the hall above and into the vaulted basement which contains the kitchen with an arched fireplace where the salt box remains, as does a shot hole covering the entrance. The hall has a wide decorated fireplace and there are four windows which have been widened. The private chambers are on the floors above both the wing and the main block. These apartments were reached by a turnpike stair which is corbelled-out at first floor level in the re-entrant angle.
WEDDERLIE HOUSE Location - OS map 74 (NT 640-515)
About 1 mile north of Westruther on minor roads north of the B6456, south of the Blackadder Water.
Wedderlie was a property of the Polwarth family in the 13th century but passed to the Edgars in 1327 and remained with them for 400 years. There probably was an earlier castle here, part of which has been incorporated into the tower house. In 1733 Wedderlie was acquired by the Stewart Lord Blantyre. Although ruined by the later part of the 19th century it has since been restored and is still occupied.
Wedderlie House, a mansion of 1680, incorporates a 16th century L-plan tower house of three storeys.
EVELAW CASTLE Location - OS map 74 (NT 661-526)
About 2.5 miles east and north of Westruther on minor roads north of the B6456 about 1.5 miles east of Wedderlie, south of Eve Law.
Evelaw was a property of the Abbey of Drylaw but in 1576 was sold to the Douglases. It passed by marriage to the Sinclairs of Longformacus then was sold in 1731 to the Smiths.
Evelaw is a ruined 16th century L-plan tower house of three storeys and a garret. It probably dates from around 1570 - 1600. It consists of a main block and a small stair-wing, the top floor of which is vaulted possibly to support a viewing or fighting platform with a corbelled-out parapet. The walls, which have rounded corners, are pierced by small windows with iron yetts and gunloops.
The basement of the main block was vaulted, and contained the kitchen. A wide turnpike stair climbed to the first-floor hall. A turnpike stair in the re-entrant turret led to the private chambers on the floors above.
THANKS TO OUR HOSTS
Details here are extracted from -
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 1 – South-East Scotland
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter - The Castles of Lothians and the Borders