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Cranshaws Castle

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Cranshaws Castle

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Canmore ID 57529

Site Number NT66SE 7

NGR NT 68195 61807

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Cranshaws
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Berwickshire
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT66SE 7.00 68195 61807

(NT 68195 61807) Cranshaws Castle (NR)

OS 6" map (1908)

Cranshaws Castle - a late 16th century tower, rubble built and harled. Occupied and in an excellent state of preservation, it is oblong in plan with rounded angles, and measures 40ft by 26ft, and 65ft high. It consists of four storeys beneath the parapet, with a garret above. Stands in a fine garden.

The towers with lands of Cranshaws were acquired by the Swintons of that ilk in 1400, and remained in their possession until 1702.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; RCAHMS 1915; N Tranter 1962

Cranshaws Castle - as described above, but not occupied at time of visit.

Visited by OS (RD) 12 May 1966.

Architecture Notes

NT66SE 7.00 68195 61807

NT66SE 7.01 68179 61822 Well

NT66SE 7.02 68158 61796 Walled Garden with Sundial


Scottish Record Office

Report and estimate for repairs of Crenshaws Castle.

1792-93 GD 150/3314

Estimarte for tyhe repair of the Castle.

Windows require to be rebuilt and hardled and the bugled part of the

South Gable reconstructed.

Mason, Adam Darling.

1812 GD 150/3202/9

Estimate and measure of mason and joiner work required to finish a

room at Cranshaws Castle. #137.12.0. 1815.

Specification from George Laurie, Gavintown, for making a new room

in the upper storey of the castle.

1815 GD 150/3202/10-11

The castle has been repaired and the Toll House built.


1814 GD 150/3202/13

Estimate and receipts for a slate roof for Cranshaws Castle.


William Johnstone, wright.

C Watson, slater .

1784-1785 GD 150/3314/3/1-9

Mason and wright work at Cranshaws Castle. It includes harling

and repairs. Accounts and receipts.

Archibald Stewart, mason.

William Johnstone, wright.

1784-1785 GD 150/3314/3/10-17

Estimate and receipted account for repairs to the castle. It includes

the replacement of windows and the floor in the lowroom.

James Gilchrist, wright.

1792 GD 150/3330/172

Wright and glaziers work at the castle.

Receipted accounts.

1773 GD 150/3292/1/15-19

Wright work at the Castle.

Repair of floors and stair and provision of new window cases.

Receipted account.

1773 GD 150/3292/1/23

Mason work at the Castle.

Receipted account for hearths and jams made and laid down at the


1774 GD 150/3292/1/24


Field Visit (17 April 1912)

110. Cranshaws Tower.

This tower (fig. 56 [SC 1313373]) is situated on the eastern slope of Cranshaws Hill about 2/3 mile to the west of the parish church. The keep is five storeys in height and oblong, on plan, with rounded angles, measuring about 40 feet by 26 feet over walls averaging 6 feet in thickness. Originally the main entrance has been in the west wall giving access from the stair-foot to the basement and to the wheel-staircase, which encroaches on the interior, and communicates directly with the upper floors and parapet walk. The ground floor, which is not vaulted, was no doubt used as a cellar for storage purposes. Above it there has been an intermediate floor, about10 feet in height, which may have served as the kitchen. The great hall was evidently at the second-floor level, while the two upper floors provided the usual bedroom accommodation. The inward projection of the staircase at the north-west angle, being square on plan, has formed a northern recess, which has been utilised as a separate apartment on each floor. The wall-heads finish in a well-preserved parapet resting on a series of moulded corbels of slight projection, and has several projecting gargoyles; the total height from the ground to the level of the parapet-walk measuring some 50 feet. The castle is inhabited and in an excellent state of preservation. The interior space has been divided by modern partitions on the upper floors in order to provide additional bedrooms. and the outer surfaces of the walls have been recently coated with roughcast.

The tower and lands of Cranshaws were acquired by the Swintons of that ilk in 1400 and remained in the possession of that family till 1702.

See Cast. and Dom. Arch., iii. p. 428 (plan and illus.).

RCAHMS 1915, visited 17th April 1912.

OS Map: Ber., ix. NE.

Standing Building Recording (January 2012 - June 2013)

NT 68195 61807 A programme of archaeological work was undertaken, January 2012 – June 2013, prior to/during the refurbishment of this well preserved later 16th-century (c1550) tower house. The work consisted of the production of an initial record and assessment of the structure, monitoring and building recording during interior works, and monitoring of excavations associated with services within and in the vicinity of the tower. An additional stage of recording and monitoring followed the decision to remove cementitious harl from the tower exterior. Additional groundwork to the exterior, the expansion of the parking area on the W side of the tower, was also monitored. A comprehensive reappraisal of the understanding of the evolution of the structure was carried out and, with many areas newly exposed, an extensive formal survey of the structure was completed. It was possible to closely relate recorded secondary modifications to historical sources for works carried out in the later 18th century, the early 19th century, in c1895–1900, and in the second half of the 20th century.

Much evidence for the original appearance and internal arrangement of the tower was recorded. A stone turnpike stair located at the NW angle provided access by means of two entrances at each level respectively to smaller chambers within the NE part of the tower and to chambers in the main body to the S. The entrances off the stair to the NE chambers were all subsequently blocked and the walling segregating the NE chambers from the areas to the S were broken through. Evidence was found at first floor level that the NE chamber had been vaulted. It was further concluded that the lower two levels of the tower had likely also been vaulted, with the upper of these levels forming an entresol arrangement.

Evidence for earlier windows was recorded throughout the building. All had been detailed with simple chamfered surrounds and many preserved evidence for glazing grooves and bars.

Some uncertainty remains as to whether the main entrance was located in the same position as the current entrance or at first floor level. The existing bolection-moulded entrance surround dates to the 1890s. However, it is clear from earlier views that a predecessor entrance at the same point was itself of secondary construction. On the W elevation a broad relieving arch above an area of patched walling at hall (second floor) level and a series of putlogs may be evidence for an original first floor entrance that led into an intramural space which existed at that point, but this remains unconfirmed.

Other features of the original build include an in situ floor structure of pine common joists at third floor level, the remains of a slop-sink spout within the N elevation at hall level, and relieving arches seen externally that suggest the former presence of fireplaces internally.

Evidence for subsequent modifications was mapped throughout. Extensive work was carried out from the late 18th to early 19th century. This included the removal of the first floor vault, and the vaults within the chambers to the NE, the associated formation of a kitchen and other domestic spaces at basement level, and a series of chambers defined by new partition walls at first floor level. The S chamber remains well preserved, retaining its panelled interior. The upper floors were extensively modified and the roof structure and parapets rebuilt. A new cap-house above the stair gave access to the parapet; this bears the date 1781. Many new windows were inserted during this period and original ones modified, often enlarged and all provided with projecting stone sills. A new ground floor entrance was also formed towards the N end of the E wall.

Below basement floor level a stone-lined drain, designed to keep ground water levels reduced, was recorded. Of the series of services trenches excavated to the N and E of the tower, none revealed evidence for remains associated with its earlier occupation, indeed it was clear that there had been much ground reduction to natural in the vicinity. One stone-lined channel revealed to the N was evidently an overflow for the well that still exists further to the NW.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: Private client

Tom Addyman and Jenni Morrison, Addyman Archaeology, 2013

(Source: DES)

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding building.

Information from Scottish Borders Council.


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