Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

The tale of Bedrule Castle, Roxburghshire

The remains of this apparently 13th century castle are situated on a high bluff above the Rule Water near Jedburgh. The castle stands in a good defensive position and from its grassy (partially artificial) mound extensive views open out.

bedrule site
Today, only grass mounds mark the site of Bedrule Castle

Situated nearby is Bedrule Church, now modern but recorded as having been ‘partly underground with slit windows’. This would suggest that it was of some antiquity and, interestingly, fragments of hog-backed stones are preserved in the porch.

The entrance to Bedrule would seem to have been protected by a twin-towered gatehouse with a further two circular towers completing the main defensive enclosure of the fortification. Today, the whole site is reduced to grassy mounds with protruding stones and the castle is cut across by a modern head dyke.

bedrule plan
Bedrule Castle

The remains would suggest an early castle and, indeed, Bedrule belonged to the Comyns in the 13th century. Edward I, that indefatigable King of England, is said to have visited Bedrule in 1298.

The castle was awarded to Sir James Douglas in 1306 after its owner, Sir John Comyn, had been killed by Bruce at the Greyfriars, Dumfries. No doubt, under Bruce policy, it would have been dismantled.

In the following century, Bedrule belonged to the Turnbulls. James IV is recorded as having hung several members of that family on a visit to Bedrule but what the castle looked like then is unknown.

On the opposite bank and facing Bedrule is Fast Castle, a strongly sited motte of the 12th century whose mound appears partially artificial. How these castles relate to each other is unknown, however it's possible that Fast would have been abandoned in favour of its stone-built neighbour.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 26 Nov 2015 Updated: 22 Mar 2023
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