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Fatlips Castle

Tower House (16th Century)

Site Name Fatlips Castle

Classification Tower House (16th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Mantoncrake Mynto Crag; Minto Tower; Fat Lips Tower; Minto Crag; Catslick

Canmore ID 55452

Site Number NT52SE 10

NGR NT 58198 20891

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Minto
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Roxburgh
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT52SE 10 58198 20891.

(NT 58192088) Fatlips Castle on Site of Fatlips Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1923)

For adjacent possible fort on Minto Craigs (NT 5816 2093), see NT52SE 30.

Fatlips Castle. This tower-house standing on the top of Minto Craigs, 729ft above sea-level, occupies the most commanding position in the neighbourhood and is a conspicuous landmark over a wide area. Dating from the 16th century, its fabric is complete and in good repair, having been restored in 1857, while the interior was renovated in 1897-8 as a shooting-box and private museum.

The structure is oblong on plan, mesuring 26ft 9 in from N to S by 32ft 3 in from E to W. It contains four storeys below the parapet-walk and a fifth above that level. The masonry is of whin rubble with freestone dressings, almost all of which have been renewed. The superstructure and the parapet-walk with its corbelling and angle-rounds are wholly modern, while part of the wall under the corbelling seems to have been taken down and rebuilt.

The entrance is near the E end of the S wall and is fitted with a modern iron gate, provision for which has been made in the jambs and lintel of the old doorway; above it is an empty space intended to hold an armorial panel. Within the entrance a vaulted lobby leads directly into the ground floor, and also gives access to a re-built newel-staircase which rises within the SE angle as high as the parapet-walk, encroaching upon each of the upper floors as it ascends. The ground floor had an entresol beneath its vault, the intermediate joists resting on a scarcement formed on the side walls. Both these divisions have been lit from the gables. The first floor has a window in each of its walls provided with seats, the E wall in addition containing a fireplace with unmoulded jambs. The second floor has no opening to the S and its fireplace is in the W gable; otherwise its arrangement is similar to that seen below. The top floor is wholly modern.

A miscellaneous collection of relics and weapons is preserved here, in particular (a) an early breech-loading gun about 5ft 5 in long with a bore of 1 1/4 in. and (b) a very handsome muzzle-loading cannon, now kept outside the tower, measuring 8ft 3 in in length with a bore of 4 7/8 in. Round the breach runs the inscription ASSVERVS KOSTER ME FECIT AMSTELREDAMI 1637 ('Ahasuerus Koster made me at Amsterdam in 1637'), the serial number 1435A being cut below (R W M Clouston 1950). The breech end is enriched with fleurs-de-lys; above the trunnions the barrel is encircled by a scrollwork. A modern inscription on the carriage records that 'This gun was taken by Admiral Elliot 28 Feb. 1760 from the French Squadron Commanded by Monsieur Thurot in naval action off the Isle of Man'.

'Mantoncrake' or 'Mynto Crag' was burnt by Hertford in 1545 (D Laing 1855; Haynes)

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1933

As described and planned by the RCAHMS.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 20 February 1967

This building is unoccupied and has fallen into disrepair. The window-openings have been blocked, much of the roof is missing, and several pieces of worked stone lie around the base, although the locations from which they have fallen or been moved are not apparent. The building bears notices warning of structural danger, and the interior was considered too dangerous for access. Heavily-overgrown ornamental woodland has almost obscured the carriage-drive that formerly approached the tower from the W.

Visited by RCAHMS (RJCM, JRS) 28 September 1993.

Architecture Notes


Scottish Magazine, June 1931, article


Note (2 November 2015)

This monument was delisted and was removed from the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

The structure is still designated as a scheduled monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

Information from Historic Environment Scotland, 2 November 2015


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