Selkirk Castle

Castle, Motte

Site Name Selkirk Castle

Classification Castle, Motte

Alternative Name(s) Peel Hill; The Haining; Haining Loch

Canmore ID 54272

Site Number NT42NE 9

NGR NT 47000 28100

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Selkirk
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Selkirkshire

Archaeology Notes

NT42NE 9 470 280.

(NT 4700 2810) Castle (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1900)

Selkirk Castle and Motte. Immediately NE. of The Haining and N of Haining Loch there rises a large mound which, though probably natural, has been adapted for defence - in the first instance as an earth-and-timber castle and in the second as an Edwardian pele.

The mound generally measures about 238ft by 185ft, and is about 40ft high except at the N end, where a round motte rises 16ft 6 in. higher. The summit, which has a diameter of 40ft, evidently bore the tower, both of the early castle and of the pele. On N and E a ditch may be seen, although it is much overgrown, and this probably extended to the loch on the S, it averages 40ft in width by 3ft in depth. There is no trace of a ditch on the W side of the mound, but the ground has been much interfered with here in the construction of the mansion-house and its garden.

Beyond the mansion to the W there is a ravine marked "Clock Sorrow" on the OS map. This seems to be mainly natural, being the outlet of the loch; it is uncertain whether it formed part of the defences of either castle or pele.

Historical Note. The castle is mentioned in the foundation charter of Selkirk Abbey, dateable to about the year 1119. During the English usurpation, at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, it was either ruinous or no longer adequate, and Edward 1 decided to rebuild. Accordingly, in February 1301-2 he and his council appointed the Warden of The Forest Sir Alexander de Balliol of Cavers, and the Sheriff of Roxburgh, Sir Robert Hastings, to be surveyors.

By the following September the work had been pressed on so energetically that Balliol became warden "of the fortress which the king has made". This fortress was mainly of earth-and-timber construction, with some masonry features (infra); its constituents were a tower and a pele, the latter a defensible enclosure of earth and timer.

Notwithstanding its defences the new "Pele of Selkirk" was taken by the Scots in 1302; Balliol, its keeper, fell into disgrace, but was forgiven in 1305 and disappears from the scene about 1310. In 1311, after Edward II's invasion, Selkirk, like Cavers and Jedburgh, was again in English hands. It had evidently disappeared by 1334, as the charter of that year ceding the southern counties to Edward III alludes, in the case of Selkirk, simply to the "town and county", whereas in the cases of Roxburgh, Edinburgh, Peebles and Dumfries the style is "town, castle and county".

RCAHMS 1957, visited 1946, 1950

This motte with bailey is as described above - the motte being reduced to a rounded much-spread mound.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 23 January 1961


Laser Scanning

Conducted by Northlight Heritage in May, 2013

Archaeological Evaluation

Small scale trial excavation by Northlight Heritage and local volunteers on behalf of the Haining Charitable Trust


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