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Scottish Castles

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Accommodation in Scottish Borders
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Castles in Scottish Borders

The southern region of the Scottish Borders covers eighteen hundred square miles of rolling hills, moorland, valleys and plains which run along Scotland’s border with England and includes the beautiful Berwickshire coastline.

Rife with picturesque villages and towns such as Kelso and Melrose, and a drive from town to town reveals gardens and parks, abbeys and stately homes, as well as many castles – some crumbling, others beautifully maintained.

Fast Castle sits along the Berwickshire coast in southeast Scotland, four miles northwest of Coldingham. The ruined fortress is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and sits just outside the St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve, which is in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland.

Nearby ruined Fatlips Castle sits just south of Fast Castle, north of Eyemouth in Roxburghshire. The castle was built in the 16th century and acquired by Sir Gilbert Elliot in 1705, restored by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1857, and in use until the 1960s. The grand estate ofAyton Castle sits just south of Eyemouth, built in the 1800s after the previous pele tower burnt down. Ayton Castle is privately owned and open to the public.

Moving inland 15 miles to Duns, Wedderburn Castle is an 18th century structure just outside of Duns, and is the historic family seat of the Home of Wedderburn family. Directly in Duns, Duns Castle is a historic house and its pele tower dates from 1320. Duns Castle is privately owned, but is often used for functions and there is a publicly accessible park and two lakes.

Floors Castle, Scottish Borders copyright Richard Slessor
Floors Castle © Richard Slessor

25 miles south of Duns through Kelso is Nisbet House, a baronial style mansion in Nisbet, built in 1630 by Sir Alexander Nisbet. Back north of Kelso is the impressive Hume Castle, a ruined castle which stands tall with views of the English border at Carter Bar. Built in either the 12th or 13th century, Hume Castle is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Nearby Floors Castle, just one mile west of Kelso, is the seat of the Duke of Roxburghe and was built in the 1720s. Floors Castle is now a category A listed building, and its gardens are listed as some of the most significant public gardens in Scotland.

Cessford Castle is a ruined castle between Jedburgh and Kelso, eight miles from the English border, and was the stronghold of the Kerrs family. Five miles from Kelso stands Smailholm Tower, atop Lady Hill. This tower offers expansive views of the Borders countryside and is in the care of Historic Scotland, as well as being labelled a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Located one mile south of Jedburgh is Ferniehirst Castle. This privately owned 15th century castle is open to the public and free to visit at all times. The 16th century Greenknowe Tower 8 miles from Kelso near Gordon is a well-preserved but roofless ruin in the care of Historic Scotland. 9 miles west of Greenknowe Tower through Thirlestane into Lauder is Thirlestane Castle, a 13th century castle rebuilt in 1590 and enhanced in the 1670s and in 1840, when two new wings were added. The castle sits on the site called Castle Hill, and has been in the ownership of the Maitland family since 1597, though it is open to the public.

26 miles southwest of Thirlestane Castle is Venlaw Castle, which sits north of Peebles and has, since 1949, operated as the Venlaw Castle Hotel. One mile west of Peebles is Neidpath Castle, built in the late 14th century, it is supposed, by a Sir William de Haya and was held in the family until the 17th century during which time Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James VI both paid a visit. Today the castle is popular as a filming location and is also open to the public. Four miles east of Peebles near Cardrona is Nether Horsburgh Castle, a 16th century ruined tower house which sits at the back of a farmstead and can be accessed with permission of the landowners.

Neidpath Castle, Scottish Borders copyright Vclaw
Neidpath Castle © Vclaw

Traquair House sits five miles south of Peebles and claims to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Traquair is a house, rather than officially a castle and was built on the site of a main hunting seat of Scottish Kings circa 12th century, though Traquair itself dates no further back than the 15th century.

In between Moffat and Selkirk sits Dryhope Tower, a ruined Scottish tower in the Yarrow Valley, near Newark Castle, a large, ruined tower house which stands on the grounds of the current Bowhill House.

Kirkhope Tower, 8 miles from Bowhill House a mile southwest of Ettickbridge, was built in the 16th century, though no actual records of the tower’s construction actually exist. 16 miles south of Kirkhope Tower is Branxholme Castle, a five-storey tower built on land owned by Clan Scott in the late 16th century after the first castle was burnt in 1532.

First built in 1240, Hermitage Castle in the very far south of the Scottish Border region in Newcastleton, is an atmospheric semi- ruined castle in the care of Historic Scotland. Hermitage Castle is set in an eerie location in isolation and its presence is as dark as its history of intrigue and treason.

Scottish Borders castles

Bullet Point Ayton Castle
Bullet Point Branxholme Castle
Bullet Point Cessford Castle
Bullet Point Dryhope Tower
Bullet Point Duns Castle
Bullet Point Fast Castle
Bullet Point Fatlips Castle
Bullet Point Ferniehirst Castle
Bullet Point Floors Castle
Bullet Point Greenknowe Tower
Bullet Point Hermitage Castle
Bullet Point Hume Castle
Bullet Point Kirkhope Tower
Bullet Point Neidpath Castle
Bullet Point Nether Horsburgh Castle
Bullet Point Newark Castle
Bullet Point Nisbet House
Bullet Point Smailholm Tower
Bullet Point Thirlestane Castle
Bullet Point Traquair House
Bullet Point Venlaw Castle
Bullet Point Wedderburn Castle

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