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Duns Castle

Country House (19th Century), Tower House (14th Century)

Site Name Duns Castle

Classification Country House (19th Century), Tower House (14th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Duns Castle Estate; Dunse Castle

Canmore ID 58652

Site Number NT75SE 3

NGR NT 77775 54384

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT75SE 3.00 77775 54384

NT75SE 3.01 77744 54449 Stables

NT75SE 3.02 77391 54136 Walled Garden

NT75SE 3.03 77868 53587 South Lodge

NT75SE 3.04 78335 54241 North Lodge

NT75SE 3.05 78057 54338 1 Pavilion Lodge

NT75SE 3.06 77609 54684 Kennels and Kennel Master's House

NT75SE 3.07 77309 54187 Gardener's House

NT75SE 3.08 78058 54354 2 Pavilion Lodge

NT75SE 3.09 77778 54338 Sundial

NT75SE 3.10 77776 54327 Screen Walls

See also:

NT75SE 1 7703 5444 Borthwick Castle

NT75NE 82 78108 55181 Duns Castle Estate, St Mary's Cottage

(NT 7778 5438) Duns Castle (NAT)

and Remains of (NAT) Castle (NR)

OS 6"map, (1957).

The oldest part of Duns Castle was originally an L-planned keep, the main buiding measuring 50 by 35ft, with a square wing projecting 30ft with 8ft thick walls. This is said to have been built between 1316 and 1320 and now forms the tower at the E end of the castle. There have been additions and extensions made to the castle at various times, notably in 1698, 1791-8, and assuming its present form in 1816-22. General Leslie had his headquarters at Duns Castle in 1639.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1892; R G Johnston 1953.

Duns Castle is as described above except that the considerably altered tower at the E end would appear to be of 15 - 16th century date rather than '1320' as stated on a plaque.

Visited by OS(RD) 21 July 1970.

Photographed by CUCAP and the RCAHM.

CUCAP and RCAHMS Catalogues (RCAHMS flown 1980).

Visible on Ordnance Survey air photograph 68/071/020.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Architecture Notes

NT75SE 3.00 77775 54384


Architect:John Baxter 1791 - 94 additions, garden gate & court of offices

James Gillespie Graham - additions after 1816. Design for spire of offices

Richard Crichton 1817 - additions - unexecuted

Ignatius Bonomi & Cory, Durham, addition 1847 - unexecuted

G. Cunningham 1859 - embankment across ravine by lake

J. Cook, C.E. 1835 - Cumledge embankment

"Family of Hay of Duns Castle" by Francis Hay.

The actual additions to the buildings of the Castle began in 1818, completed in

1822. The architect was James Gillespie, afterwards known as Gillespie Graham.

The builder was William Waddell. The stone was taken from a quarry on the

astate at Putton Mill. The carving of the gargoyles was done by John Anderson,

some of the figures were caricatures of men in Duns. The interior wood carving

in the house was executed by John Steel, afterwards Sir John, the well known

sculptor. William Hay, who was then the owner of the house, was an

amateur artist, and he doubtless was resposible for the general plan Gillespie

carried out. It may be added that the present manse in Duns was designed by

Gillespie Graham. William Hay designed the Episcopal Chuch in Duns, based

on a church on the banks of the Rhine, sketched by William Hay when abroad.


NMRS Photographic survey of drawings at Duns Castle including designs by John Baxter 1792 and 1794; Richard Crichton 1817; designs and working drawings by James Gillespie Graham; design for additions by Bonomi and Corry, Durham 1847; designs for a tolbooth and for Christchurch, Duns.

Copied 1972 and 1988 Inventory 43

S.M.T. Magazine, February 1934 - text and photographs.



Letter from John Steell senior to James Gillespie Graham suggests that young (Sir) John was

working with his father or on his behalf at Duns, while apprenticed to him.

Undated but attached to receipts dated 1821:


As above you have Mr Hay's account of goods detered, as my son is unwell today.

I hope you will give the bearer some cash of the above account. Much obliged.

Sir, Your most obedient servant

John Steell.


Field Visit (21 October 1908)

114. Duns Castle.

Incorporated in the present mansion-house, and forming the east end of it, is an ancient tower, much modernised, reputed to have been built about 1320 by Randolph, Earl of Moray. It was a structure on an L plan, of which the main block measured about 50 feet from east to west by 35 feet wide, while the wing projected northwards for a distance of about 30 feet. The walls were about 8 feet thick. Another portion of the castle, forming the central division of the south frontage, in rear of the present modern entrance, dates from the closing years of the 17th century.

See Cast. and Dom. Arch., v. p. 265 (plans); Ber. Nat. Club, 1892-93, p.57; ibid., 1896-98, p. 337 (illus.).

OS Map: Ber., xvi. NE.

RCAHMS 1915, visited 21st October 1908.

Photographic Survey (1953)

Photographic survey of Duns Castle, Berwickshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1953.

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding building.

Information from Scottish Borders Council.


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