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Holydean Castle

Castle (Medieval), Well (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Holydean Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Well (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Hobbie Ker's Well

Canmore ID 55731

Site Number NT53SW 24

NGR NT 53745 30251

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Bowden
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Roxburghshire


Partial Demolition (1793)

The greater part of this castle was demolished before 1793 to obtain material for building a farmhouse.

Field Visit (8 February 1961)

The remains of Holydean Castle and Hobbie Ker's Well are as described by RCAHMS. The vaulted undercroft is now used as a tractor shed. The RCAHM does not mention two short lengths of walling which are extant. The portion at NT 5374 3027 is 4.6m long, about 1.2m thick and 4.0m high, and houses Hobbie Ker's Well. The portion at NT 5375 3025 is 5.0m long, 1.2m thick and about 8.0m high, with a rectangular opening some 3.3m above ground level. Both fragments of wall are ivy-covered.

Visited by OS (EGC) 8 February 1961

Desk Based Assessment (1961)

NT 53 SW 24 537 302.

(NT 5370 3025) Castle (NR) (rems of)

(NT 5373 3027) Hobbie Ker's Well (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

Holydean Castle: The greater part of this castle was demolished before 1793 to obtain material for building a farmhouse. The Statistical Account (OSA, 1793) states that the castle had a courtyard about 3/4 acre in extent, enclosed by a wall 16ft high and 4ft thick, protected by gun-loops about 30ft apart.

In the front wall there was an arched gateway with a strong iron gate. Inside the enclosure there were two strong towers, of three and five storeys respectively, besides porters' lodges, servants' hall, vaulted cellars, bakehouses etc. The present remains, now incorporated in the modern farm steading of Holydean, include the entrance gateway, dating from the late 16th or early 17th century, with an oval gun-loop on its E side.

Farther E there is an incomplete vaulted undercroft 17 1/2 ft wide, with a present length of 26ft; that this was the bakehouse is shown by the large built-up fireplace, traceable in the surviving gable. The entrance lintel of one of the towers has been incerted above the entrance to the farmhouse. It bears a shield flanked by the initials V K for Walter Ker, and an inscription followed by a date, now illegible but given by the O S A as 1530. This date, however, seems to be too early as it was only in 1543 that Sir Walter Ker of Cessford married Isabel Ker of Ferniehurst, and not until 1571 that they received from the Commendator of Kelso Abbey a feu-charter for the lands of Halidene.

On the N of the steading there is a circular draw-well, 33ft 1in in diameter, housed in a niche. This well resembles the one inside the Earl's Palace at Kirkwall, which can be dated to 1606. Its traditional name, "Hobby Ker's Well", may have come from Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe, grandson of the laird of Cessford mentioned above.


Information from Ordnance Survey Index Card.

Sbc Note

Visibility: Upstanding building, which may not be intact.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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