berwick self catering close to town centre, Oil Mill Lane
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You may find this relevant information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

Castles, Towers and Bastles.

You need not travel far in the Borderlands before you encounter evidence of past warfare and violence. Usually this takes the form of a fortified building, but not always. It may be a battlefield or a site of a skirmish.

Castles are numerous, especially in Northumberland, but to locate a real castle requires a little research, a castle looking much as it did when it was ready for action. There are more than a few of these left, however, and they are well worth seeking out and visiting. I have found Norham, Neidpath and Warkworth particularly appealing, but there are others. Some are reasonably complete, at least in part. Some are little more than a heap of stones, but they still have character.

Some castles are not castles at all. They are stately homes ornamented with battlements, towers, and occasionally even moats. Inside you will find a collection of souvenirs from abroad expressing the wealth of the owner at that time and his varying degrees of artistry and taste. They are worth visiting provided you know what to expect.

Some of these ‘castles’ started life as strongholds, probably as a pele tower, and were enlarged and engulfed later, usually by Victorian structures. Take away the more recent additions and there would most likely be little left but a heap of stones.

Once, there were many hundreds of towers in the Borders. Most have been destroyed. Used, like many of the castles, as quarries by later builders. They were usually square and several storeys high. Some are still lived in, as at Elsdon in Northumberland. Some, as previously mentioned, were incorporated into larger more hospitable buildings. A few have survived largely as they were, and, on the whole, thoughtfully restored. A splendid example is Hollows Tower, near Canonbie, in Liddesdale. Two other worthwhile examples are Smailholm, near Kelso, and Preston in Northumberland.

Bastles, the name being from Bastille, are mini towers, sometimes lived in at the time. They were mainly located in England and some survive. They are often photographed with an outside staircase which was added later when the troubles were over.

It is gratifying to located a building in which your ancestors may have lived, even though it is little more that a pile of rubble, At least the site’s still there. Good hunting!

Aikwood Tower, Ettrick Valley, near Selkirk

A very fine 14th century peel tower restored in 1992 and the home of Lord and Lady Steel of Aikwood. The present tower was rebuilt about 1602. Its walls are only about 4 feet thick and above the dungeons are three stories all restored. Most displays refer to the tremendous restoration job which was carried out by the Steel family. Their achievements are truly awe inspiring! There is an exhibition of the life and work of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. The tower has a haunted chamber known as the Jingler's Room. There is also a small medieval garden, stocked with rare ancient plants, a car park and a small shop. The tower and gardens are open May to September. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
berwick self catering close to town centre
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John Haswell, 2 Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 1HT
Tel: 01289 304492    Mob: 07866 094097