Cockburnspath Tower

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Cockburnspath Tower


Remains of Cockburnspath Tower - geograph-2552062.jpg
Cockburnspath Tower
Type: Tower house
Grid reference: NT78466982
Location: 55°55’16"N, 2°20’46"W
Built 15th century
Condition: Ruined

Cockburnspath Tower is a ruined 15th century castle standing above the steep-sided ravine of the Tower Burn near Cockburnspath in north-eastern Berwickshire.

There are records of a castle at Cockburnspath goes back to 1073, when Colbrandspath was owned by the Earl of Dunbar and March, presumably Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria. The earls of March held it until 1343, until a feu was granted to Sir Adam de Hepburn.

In 1435, de Dunbar lands and titles were forfeit to the Crown, and in 1455 King James II granted the title and lands to his second son, Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany. The current tower may date from Alexander's time

The keep is rectangular on plan, and stands at the north-west corner of a courtyard, within which are a range of ancillary buildings.

In 1503 the estate made up part of the dowry paid by King James IV upon his marriage to Margaret Tudor, and seem to have been granted to the Queen's attorney. Following the King's death at Flodden in 1513, Margaret married Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus the following year, and he claimed the barony of Cockburnspath in her name, but these were unquiet times – the Queen and Douglas were soon estranged and fought in open warfare – and ultimately the title and estates fell to the Home family, who held Cockburnspath Tower until 1682, when it was bought by Sir John Hall, who appears to have neglected it.

It is unclear quite when the tower and its buildings were abandoned, but in the 19th century an ornately-carved 17th century doorway was recorded in a block across the courtyard from the main tower, giving access to a chamber. This has since been lost.

The tower today is a sorry ruin and its site thoroughly overgrown, the stones burst apart by green growth.