Thanks to the sterling efforts of some of our members who stepped in to finalise some last-minute arrangements following the untimely death of our chairman Robert Bogdan, who had previously organised the majority of this tour, the Spring Tour to the Roxburgh region on 15-16 April 2023 managed to go ahead.
At first sight it appears a typical 'laird's house' of the late 17th century but Fairnington's vaulted basement could belong to an earlier building – one recorded as being destroyed by the English in 1544.
This 15th century stronghold with its 14-ft-thick walls is one of the classic castles of the Borders. It was the focus of repeated attacks throughout its history. It is a massive L-plan castle with entrances at both ground and first floor levels and is vaulted throughout. An unusual feature is its 'false barbican', a defence to further strengthen the entrance. In 1523 the Earl of Surrey regarded it as the third strongest castle in Scotland. Cessford has been consolidated in recent years by the Roxburgh Estates.
Abbotsford is the extraordinary home of the 19th century novelist Sir Walter Scott. Known to the locals as 'Clarty Hole' – Scott quickly renamed it Abbotsford! The house is filled with curios reflecting Scott's interest in Scotland. Explore more of Abbotsford's stunning interiors and exterior on its website here.
Rescued from ruin in the 1980s and converted into a delightful home Hillslap is a tall L-plan tower of 1585. A stair turret at the re-entrant is supported by a 'squinch' – a small relieving arch in place of the more common corbelling. Gun loops are in evidence as one would expect in a tower of its era and location.
A 'bastle house', one of six which stood in Jedburgh. These were 'strong houses', vaulted and barred but lacking wall head defences. It is connected with Mary Queen of Scots as the place where she contracted a mysterious illness. In later life she was often heard to say "I wish that I had died in Jedburgh". However, it is considered to anti-date Mary's visit.
Fulton is a strong, little tower of the 16th century comprising a main block with an external circular staircase tower. Only two storeys remain – the upper floors having been taken down to build the adjoining farm. Wide mouth gun-holes guard the approach but were to no avail in 1545 when 'Fotton' was burned by the Earl of Hertford at the head of 1,500 men.
An exceedingly strong tower, circa 1500, Cavers' 8-ft-thick walls suggest an earlier structure. Cavers was extensively modified over the years but in 1957 all additions were demolished leaving the original tower standing but in ruin.
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Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.