Ancient Monuments

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Drumelzier Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Tweeddale West, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.587 / 55°35'13"N

Longitude: -3.391 / 3°23'27"W

OS Eastings: 312422

OS Northings: 633476

OS Grid: NT124334

Mapcode National: GBR 43RV.N1

Mapcode Global: WH6V7.WTFS

Entry Name: Drumelzier Castle

Scheduled Date: 27 June 1972

Last Amended: 16 February 2022

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3149

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: tower

Location: Drumelzier

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Tweeddale West

Traditional County: Peeblesshire


The site comprises Drumelzier Castle, the remains of a 16th century tower house, incorporating an older structure. It is located within Drumelzier Place farm, situated on a low but prominent rise to the south of the River Tweed.   

The castle appears to have developed into an L-plan tower house over three phases. The earliest phase survives as a fragment of masonry built into the west wall of a later farm building. This fragment appears to be the south west corner of a substantial building of at least 2 storeys but little more can be said about the building. A substantial oblong tower was butted against this structure probably in the mid-16th century. All that survives of this tower is the lower courses of its south wall. In the later 16th century a square-planned wing was added to this central block. This had a vaulted ground floor and was three storeys and attic in height. Only the ground floor of the tower now survives, and this has gunloops in each wall. 

The scheduled area is irregular. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling includes the southeast corner of the later farm building which contains medieval walls projecting 3.5m to the northwest and 2.5m to the north east. The rest of the later farm building including the entirety of the roof and roof structure are excluded from the scheduling, as are all modern fences and gates.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17): 

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past, or has the potential to do so. The monument is the remains of a L-plan tower house which developed over an extended period and which was owned by the Tweedies, a significant border family. The study of its form, construction and layout has the potential to enhance our knowledge of tower house complexes and their development over time. 

b. The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular, the monument has multiple phases of construction and developed as a castle site over an extended period until the late 16th century. This has the potential to increase our understanding of construction techniques and the phasing of castle sites.

f. The monument makes a significant contribution our understanding of the historic landscape by providing insight into the siting of medieval tower houses, there relationship with landholding and their place in the wider medieval landscape.

Assessment of Cultural Significance 

The cultural significance of the site has been assessed as follows: 

Intrinsic Characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument survives as the remains of a 16th century tower house incorporating fabric from an earlier structure. It was built by the Tweedie's of Drumelzier, a significant border family, and was roofless by the later 18th century. When surveyed in 1962 the central block, or southwest wing, stood in part to its original height while the later south tower was complete to its gables and retained features such as ground floor vaulting and gunloops under the cills of each window. Only a fragment of the older element of the castle survived as a section of walling two storeys in height and partly built into a later farm building (RCAHMS 1967, 29-231). When designated as a scheduled monument in 1972, the castle appears to have been in a similar condition as described in 1962 although it was noted that the 'masonry, particularly that of the central portion (the so-called S.W. wing) is in an advanced state of decay …'

The castle suffered a serious collapse shortly after it was designated. This reduced the south tower to a single storey and removed all but the south wall of the central block. The oldest section was reduced in height to a fragment within the farm building, which was also damaged in the collapse. The only architectural details which survive are gunloops in the ground floor walls of the north, west and south of the south tower. Although the intrinsic characteristics of the castle have been affected by this loss of fabric, the castle retains significance as the remains of the seat of the Tweedies of Drumelzier and because of its complex development sequence. 

The castle is located within the yard of the farm, the successor to the Place of Drumelzier. There is a cattle pen over the site of the main block and the fragment of the oldest  part of the castle is built into a later farm building. There is no evidence of ancillary buildings or other structures around the castle although a drawing by Francis Grose from the late 18th century indicates that these did exist at that time. This sketch shows the ruinous tower and other structures within the later farm complex. The area immediately around the tower shows signs of disturbance and it is likely that there is only limited archaeological potential much beyond the surviving remain of the tower. The base of the south tower is filled with rubble, probably from the collapse and this may have sealed archaeological deposits beneath it. The monument therefore retains some potential to inform us about medieval and late medieval fortified buildings, their associated buildings and structures. 

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Tower houses are found throughout Scotland with a significant concentration in southern Scotland. The National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) records that there are almost a 1000 tower houses in Scotland, 224 of which are located in the Scottish Borders.

Some examples of nationally important tower house in the area are more complete or retain a higher degree of complexity and archaeological potential. Examples such as Posso Tower (scheduled monument SM3167) and Plora Tower (scheduled monument SM3157) retain associated features such as outbuildings or gardens and have a greater degree of archaeological potential. However, other towers such as Lee Tower (SM10861), Shieldgreen Tower (SM8674) and Fulton Tower (SM7033) survive in a fragmentary condition. Such examples, together with better preserved towers and castle, are significant for the information they provide on the siting of tower houses.

Near to Drumelzier Castle are a number of other fortifications connected to the Tweedies of Drumelzier and other branches of the Tweedie family. These include   Tinnis Castle (scheduled monument SM2984) a quadrangular castle located on a knoll 1.5km to the northeast of Drumelzier Castle and Wrae Castle (Listed Building LB2003). There is potential to study the fortifications of the Tweedie family to better understand how family identity and power was displayed through construction of such structures. This in turn helps us understand the nature of the medieval manorial landscape of Upper Tweedsdale. 

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

Drumelzier Castle was constructed by the Tweedie's of Drumelzier, a significant Border family. It is recorded that they held the lands of Drumelzier from at least the 14th century. By the 16th century, Drumelzier Castle was the main centre of the Barony, perhaps replacing Tinnis Castle as their main seat. 

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 49916 (accessed on 19/11/2021).

Maxwell-Irving, A. (1971). 'Early firearms and their influence on the military and domestic architecture of the Borders' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 103, pp. 192-224. Accessed online at

RCAHMS 1967. An Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Peebleshire. Vol.II. HMSO, Edinburgh.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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