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Spedlin's Tower

Garden (17th Century)(Possible), Tower House (15th Century) - (17th Century)

Site Name Spedlin's Tower

Classification Garden (17th Century)(Possible), Tower House (15th Century) - (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Spedlins Tower, Templand

Canmore ID 66237

Site Number NY08NE 4

NGR NY 09767 87553

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Lochmaben
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY08NE 4.00 09767 87553

NY08NE 4.01 09722 87483 Garage

NY08NE 4.02 09736 87468 Cottage

(NY 0976 8755) Spedlin's Tower (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map (1957)

Situated on the top of the rising ground on the right bank of the river Annan, and surrounded with ancient trees, this massive keep has a fine and impressive appearance. It is about 5 1/2 miles northwrads from Lockerbie and belongs to Sir Alexander Jardine of Jardine Hall, a fine mansion of the early part of the present century on the opposite side of the river. Spedlin's Tower is the ancient home of the Jardine family, and, as such, is kept in good repair by the present representative.

In a panel near the top of the E side is engraved the date of 1605, which is certainly the date of the upper part of the tower, but the two lower storeys bear the marks of an earlier time. The castle is a parallelogram 46 ft (14m) long by 38 ft 6ins (11.7m) wide. The walls of the two lower storeys are massive and strong, being from 9 ft to 10 ft (2.7 to 3m) in thickness.

The enrance door is on the ground floor near the SE angle. This portion of the walls has been restored in modern times, but the straight stair leading to the first floor has always been in its present position. It is quite possible, however, that the original entrance-doorway was on the first floor, immediately above the present entrance, where there is now a window to a small wall-chamber. The door from the hall to the wall-chamber would in that case represent the inner doorway to the keep, and the existing straight staircase would be the mode of access down from the hall to the ground floor. The staircase is only 2 ft 10 ins (0,9m) wide, while the steps of the newel stair to the upper floors are 3 ft 4 ins (1m) long. The former was thus too narrow for the principal entrance staircase.

The ground floor is vaulted and is lighted with a narrow loophole at each end. It has a portion divided off with a stone wall pierced with two doors. This was probably the private wine-cellar. The hall occupies the first floor and is also vaulted. It was originally lighted with a window in the E wall and another in the W wall near the upper or fireplace end, and there seems to have been also a similar window at the S end of the hall. The two former have stone seats in their deep bays, and that on the E side has a deep ambry. The window in the S end may have been originally similar to the above. It still has a stone seat on one side and the stair to the basement would then enter from the other side of the window recess. But this window has been altered, probably at the same time that the access to the keep was altered, so as to make the entrance directly into the hall. The other window in the W wall, with the sloping recess, was probably opened up at the same time. It will be observed that it is larger and higher than the older one in the same wall. There is a smaller window at a high level above that in the S wall. This would give light to the upper part of the hall, and may have lighted a minstrels' gallery at the S end, which would be the natural position for such a gallery.

From the hall, a newel staircase in the SW angle of the walls leads to the upper floors. We were informed that formerly the prison entered by a hatch from the landing where this staircase begins, but owing to the noisy ghost of a man named Porteous, who had accidentally been strarved to death in the 'pit', the latter was filled up with earth, and is now, together with the staircase, almost entirely choked with branches and other rubbish brought there by the jackdaws.

The two vaulted storeys represent, in our opinion, the castle which must have stood here in the 15th century.

Above this level, the design and arrangements of the building are quite different. The exterior walls are thinned off to 3ft 6ins (1m) in thickness. The windows are larger, and present a much more modern appearance in their internal arrangements.

The whole building is divied into two compartments by a passage running across the centre of the second floor, from which rooms entered to the N and S. These compartments are indicated in the external view by the two gables of the double roof which covered in the tower.

There is a rather incongruous relic of the more ancient plan on this floor, in the garde-robe, which has been preserved in the thickness of the W wall.

Above the second floor there is a third which has been similarly arranged, and above this an attic flat with small loops in the gables, but probably with windows in the roof. The two upper floors are now inaccessible.

The third floor has corbelled turrets at the four angles, which, from their shape and the cable mouldings they bear, are evidently late. The cornice over the central windows of this floor quite corresponds in style with the date of 1605 borne by that on the E side.

We have seen that such towers as Coxton (NJ26SE 12), Hallbar (NS84NW 11), etc., are not uncommon in the 17th century, but such a large and massive keep as this would be somewhat exceptional at this date. We have no hesitation, for the reasons above given, in ascvribing its two lower stories to an earlier period. We have however placed this amongst the simple keeps of the Fifth Period, as the general effect and details of the building connect it more closely with that period than with the previous century. The fireplace of the hall is evidently an instertion of the later time, showing as it does the Renaissance details then coming into vogue, The design of this fireplace has a very striking resemblane to that of Newark Castle, Port Glasgow (NS37SW 1.00).

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92.

The two lower floors of the 15thc peel tower, with pit or prison

7ft 6in by 2ft 6in and 11ft 6in deep, remains. All above is 17th c. work, now roofless. The date 1605 on a panel is presumably of a reconstruction.

N Tranter 1935; 1965; RCAHMS 1920.

Spedlin's Tower is of outstanding architectural interest and is in a fair state of preservation.

Visited by OS (JP) 16 October 1972.

Possible 17th-century garden.

N Hynd 1984.


Photographic Survey (1967)

Photographic survey of Spedlin's Tower, Dumfries-shire, by RCAHMS in 1967.

Field Visit (8 September 1993)

NY 0976 8755 NY08NE 4

This substantial late fifteenth-century tower-house, which was remodelled in the 17th century, has recently been restored. It consists of a main block of three principal storeys, corbelled rounds and a double garret furnished with crow-stepped gables and slated roofs. Work has now been extended to the layout of garden terraces and policies, including the building of two new single-storey pavilions flanking the garden terrace to the S of the tower.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS/JRS), 8 September 1993.

Listed as tower.

RCAHMS 1997.


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