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Cockburnspath Tower

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Cockburnspath Tower

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Canmore ID 58727

Site Number NT76NE 2

NGR NT 78462 69822

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/58727

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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT76NE 2.00 78462 69822

NT 7845 6981) Cockburnspath Tower (NR)

(remains of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1977)

NT76NE 2.01 NT 7846 6985 Farmstead

For clay whorl found at Cockburnspath Tower, see NT76NE 63.

Cockburnspath Tower: On plan the main portion of the buildings has been in the form of a rectangular 15th century (D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889) keep situated at the NW angle of the site, measuring some 21ft by 18ft within walls averaging 6ft in thickness. The SW wall remains to a height of only a few feet, and both the NW and SE walls are partially ruined. The NE wall remains some 40ft high, with indications of an opening at each floor level, arched on the interior and square-headed externally. Fragmentary indications of a vaulted basement remain. The doorway, in the NE wall is now built up; on either side of it the wall is strengthened by a buttress. The upper portions of the walls are very ruinous, but it seems probable that there was originally a fourth floor and a parapet walk.

Some 12ft NE of the tower is a comparatively modern wing of one storey containing two apartments and measuring some 44ft by 19ft over walls 2ft in thickness. Another one-storeyed building, measuring about 70ft by 18ft within walls averaging 3 1/2ft in thickness, has enclosed a courtyard on the SE side, and no doubt served as the offices or stables in connection with the tower. It consists of three vaulted apartments with narrow loop- holes formed in the NE and SE walls. An arched ruined doorway (illustrated by MacGibbon and Ross, q.v.) which gave access to the NE apartment from the courtyard, was a good example of 17th century work. This doorway has been completely destroyed and only a few fragments lie scattered on the site.

A A Carr 1836; A Thompson 1908; RCAHMS 1915, visited 1908.

Cockburnspath Tower is generally as described; the N half of the tower remains to a height of some 25 to 30ft, the W and E walls are about 12ft and 4ft high respectively at their S extremities, the S wall having an average height height of some 4ft. The walls are in poor condition and thickly overgrown. (Visited by OS (JLD) 27 October 1954).

Visited by OS (WDJ), 20 April 1966.

Listed. No additional information.

RCAHMS 1980.

Activities

Field Visit (3 November 1908)

47. Cockburnspath Tower.

The ruins of this tower stand on the high northern bank of a small stream on the east side of the Postroad to Berwick, about 1 mile to the south-east of Cockburnspath village. On plan the main portion of the buildings has been in the form of a rectangular keep situated at the north-west angle of the site, measuring some 21 feet by 18 feet within walls averaging 6 feet in thickness. The south-west wall remains to a height of only a few feet above the ground-level, and both the north-west and southeast walls are partially ruined. The north-east wall, however, remains to a height of fully 40 feet with the indications of an opening at each floor-level, arched on the interior and square-headed to the exterior. Fragmentary indications of a vaulted basement remain, access to which has been through an arched doorway in the northeast wall, now built up. On either side of this doorway the wall is strengthened by a broad buttress, some 16 feet high, projecting 2 feet at the ground and diminishing towards the top by a series of splayed intakes. The keep has been substantially built of rough rubble, the only break in the outer surfaces of the walls being a projecting string-course at the level of the second floor. The upper portions of the walls are in a very ruinous state, but it seems probable that there has been originally a fourth floor and a parapet walk for defensive purposes. Some 12 feet to the north-east of the tower is a comparatively modern wing of one storey containing two apartments and measuring some 44 feet by 19 feet over walls 2 feet in thickness. Another one-storeyed building, measuring about 70 feet by 18 feet within walls averaging 3 feet 6 inches in thickness, has enclosed a courtyard on the south-east side, and no doubt served as the offices or stables in connection with the castle. It consists of three vaulted apartments with narrow loopholes formed in the north-east and south. west walls. The ruined doorway, which gave access to the north-east most apartment from the courtyard, has been a good example of the 17th-century style. The outer jambs consisted of bold, half-round mouldings continued round the semicircular archhead, and enriched at regular intervals by projecting keystone blocks of similar section. This doorway has unfortunately been completely destroyed, and only a few detached fragments now lie scattered on the site.

See Cast. and Dam. Arch., iii. p. 220 (plan and illus.); Grose's Antiquities, i. p. 93 (illus.); Carr's Coldingham, p. 105 (illus.)

RCAHMS 1915, visited 3 November 1908.

OS Map: Ber., i. SE.

Photographic Survey (June 1962)

Photographs of Cockburnspath Tower, Berwickshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in June 1962.

Sbc Note

Visibility: Upstanding building, which may not be intact.

Information from Scottish Borders Council

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