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Innerwick Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Innerwick Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Canmore ID 58912

Site Number NT77SW 10

NGR NT 7351 7369

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Innerwick (East Lothian)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT77SW 10 7351 7369.

(NT 7351 7369) Innerwick Castle (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map (1959)

An apparently 15 - 16th century castle, occupying a rocky promontory cut off by a rock-hewn ditch 15ft deep and 18ft wide.

Only the lowest storey remains, the walls varying from 1 1/4 ft to 4ft in thickness, with the earlier portions of ashlar and the later of uncoursed rubble - but the castle is known to have been razed in 1402 or 1406 and rebuilt, and fired in 1547. Rock-cut mortices on either side of the ditch suggest the existence of a bridge leading to an entrance.

The site suggests itself for occupation at an early period.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913

The remains of Innerwick Castle are as described by the RCAHMS and are still impressive.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 28 March 1966

Architecture Notes


National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, among the 'Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton', contains, in number 35, vol. 1, a rough ink sketch, dated 1782, of the Castle of Innerwick, which stands in the East part of the County of Haddington, West of the road from Dunbar to Berwick.

Scottish Record Office

Thomson of Duddington [Rev. John] [1778-1840]. Landscape. The Old Castle at Innerwick.

GD205/Box 48/Portfolio 18

1838 Inventory of pictures at Archerfield.


Field Visit (16 July 1913)

This ruin stands ¾ mile due east of Innerwick, on the left bank of the Thornton Burn, at an altitude of 250 feet above sea-level. The deep but narrow channel of the burn skirts a harder mass of rock to form a promontory encompassed on the north, east and south by the loop of the stream; on this promontory the castle (fig. 15 [SC 1127022]) is built, being cut off from the mainland on the west by an artificial ditch 15 feet deep and 18 feet wide hewn across the neck. On either side of this ditch a row of five mortices for joists, cut in the rock and spaced over a width of 8 ½ feet suggests that the gap was crossed at one time by a permanent wooden bridge.

The promontory measures 100 feet along its major axis from east to west and has a mean width of 53 feet from north to south. It is entirely covered with building of different periods to within a few inches of the edge, the disposition and area of the structures being naturally governed by the site (fig. 95). So ruinous are these that the arrangement of the castle is difficult to elicit; the lowest storey only remains, and even in that important features such as accesses have disappeared. It may be premised that a site of this nature would be occupied from an early period, but the arrangement on plan does not seem to warrant a date earlier than the 15th century for the oldest structures.

On west, south and possibly also on the north the rock is crowned by a wall of enceinte along its sides, the wall being embodied, probably during a reconstruction, in buildings to the west of the main block, which lies 24 feet east of the rock. cut ditch. If the structure borne across the ditch and indicated by the beam holes was a bridge, the entrance in the curtain would lie opposite to it. The main. block comprises two chambers of approximately equal lengths but unequal in width, with a vaulted passage on the north. These chambers are ceiled with round barrel-vaults and enter from the east, the northern through a vestibule within the thickness of the wall, the southern from a passage, at the southern end of which are traces of a staircase leading to the upper floor. In the east wall of these chambers' above the vault is a stone conduit sloping diagonally downwards in the thickness of the wall, which, it is suggested, may have served to collect roof water for domestic purposes.

A rib-vaulted passage on the north turns southwards along the main block and gives access to a long apartment running east and west; the western portion nearest the passage has a large fireplace beside the doorway and is elevated above the eastern and larger division. This chamber was covered with a round barrel vault but appears to be later than the main block. Off it, at its eastern end, is a little room on the north, which has been ceiled in wood, while a doorway farther west leads to an irregularly shaped chamber with a drain in the north wall east of the window. This chamber has a pointed barrel-vault and gives access to a small circular staircase.

The structures west of the main block are extremely ruinous. The only feature of architectural interest is a window overlooking the ditch, which from its detail, is evidently of the16th century. At the north-west angle of the site an oblong tower is placed, from which is entered a passage to the south against the west wall of enceinte.

If the entrance to the castle was not by means of such a bridge as has been suggested, it must have been by a stairway abutting against the oblong tower and descending to the north passage; in which case, probably, the courtyard originally extended as far as the cross wall shown dotted on plan, the other portions to the south being occupied by two conjoining structures.

The chambers in the portion referred to as the main block measure internally 18 ¼ feet and 17 ½ feet from east to west and 7 feet and 14 ½ feet from north to south; the long apartment to the east has a total length of 36 feet and a width of 16 feet. To the north of this the irregularly shaped chamber is 14 ¼ feet long by 12 1/3 feet wide. The walls of the castle vary in thickness from 1 ¼ to 4 feet. The older portions are built of ashlar, the later of uncoursed rubble.

HISTORICAL NOTE. The castle of Innerwick or Inverwick (castrum de Inverwik in Laudonia) was one of the places that fell into the hands of the English after their success at Homildon Hill in Sep. 1402. I t was recaptured by the Regent Albany with an army in the summer of the following year, when he had it razed to the ground (prostravit ad terram) (1). But a purchase of timber ‘for the siege of the castle of Innerwick’ in 1406 would seem to relegate the siege to that year (2). Thereafter it was reconstructed, and ‘Anderwyke’ as a ‘pyle or holde’ on a ‘craggy foundacion’ menacing communication with Berwick, was assaulted by Somerset on the way into Scotland with a force on Sep. 6, 1547. The place ‘perteined to the Lorde of Hambleton’ and was kept by the Master of Hamilton and eight others ‘gentlemen for the moste part’. The defenders blocked the outer doors and the stairs and made their defence from the battlements. But the hackbutters, who were attacking, forced a way in and started a fire in the lower parts, so that the ‘smoke and smoother’ forced the defenders to ask mercy. Ere a reply could come from the commander, the hackbutters had forced their way up and killed eight of the garrison; one jumped from the wall and ran a furlong before he was overtaken and slain (3).

On the Hamiltons of Innerwick, see [RCAHMS 1924] Introd.,p. xxii.

RCAHMS 1924, visited 16 July 1913.

(1) Scotich. Lib. xv. cap 16; (2) Exch. Rolls iii., p. 644; (3) Patten's Expedicion into Scotlande, pp. 36-7.

Photographic Survey (January 1964 - February 1964)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Works in 1964.


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