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Borthwick Castle

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Borthwick Castle

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Lochorwart; Mote Of Lochorwart

Canmore ID 53239

Site Number NT35NE 1

NGR NT 36990 59732

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Borthwick
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

(NT 3699 5973) Borthwick Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

NT35NE 1.01 Gate-house

NT35NE 1.02 Gateway

NT35NE 1.03 Gate piers


Borthwick Castle, built about 1430, consists of a main block with two wings on the W, and remains substantially in its original state, despite minor modern restoration. It stands within an irregularly-shaped enceinte just over 1/2 acre in extent, originally enclosed by curtain walls, surmounted by a parapet-wall and strengthened in places by circled and salient towers. Grose in 1789, shows an oblong 17th century dovecot projecting from the SE angle of the enceinte. The entrance to the enclosure is modern, but is on the site of the original gateway.

There was a mote-hill on the site, called the mote of Lochorwart, before the present structure, and at the eastern base of the promontory on which it stands, there still remains an 8-10' wide ditch, with a low outer rampart. There is now no trace of the mote-hill, it was presumably levelled when the castle was erected.

RCAHMS 1929, visited 1920.

Borthwick Castle, an outstanding example of a 15th Century tower, is generally as described and planned. No trace of the dovecot survives.

The ditch and rampart at the eastern base of the promontory is now visible as a terrace averaging about 4.0m wide x 1.3m high.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (RD) 17 February 1970.

Architecture Notes


Owner: Major Borthwick of Borthwick.

NMRS Print Room:

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection, accession no 1997/39.

2 views of the towers.



Uncatalogued manuscripts of General Hutton, no 26, sketch dated 1781.


Watching Brief (30 June 2014)

NT 3699 5973 A watching brief was undertaken on 30 June 2014 during the ground-breaking work associated with a programme of drainage improvements around Borthwick Castle. The first stage of the works involved digging a 2m wide trench around the castle to a depth of c1.7m. This trench exposed the castle’s foundations and the outlets of refuse chutes and culverts leaving the castle. A buried topsoil, located below the modern ground surface in the area around the castle, was found to contain a range of artefacts of possible medieval date, including ceramic pottery fragments, pipe stems and animal bone.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Borthwick Castle

Nicholas Johnstone – AOC Archaeology Group

(Source: DES)


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