Ancient Monuments

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Corsbie Tower

A Scheduled Monument in Leaderdale and Melrose, Scottish Borders

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.6865 / 55°41'11"N

Longitude: -2.626 / 2°37'33"W

OS Eastings: 360740

OS Northings: 643851

OS Grid: NT607438

Mapcode National: GBR B23P.8C

Mapcode Global: WH8XH.MBRG

Entry Name: Corsbie Tower

Scheduled Date: 1 March 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8876

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: domestic buildings

Location: Legerwood

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Leaderdale and Melrose

Traditional County: Berwickshire

Description

The monument consists of the fragmentary remains of Corsbie tower, a 16th century tower house that stands on a large and prominent mound surrounded by a bog. On top of and surrounding the mound, there are traces of earthworks, which may relate to an earlier, earth and timber castle. The tower is approached from the N, where a causeway leads across the marshy ground up onto the knoll.

Corsbie is believed to have been the property of the Cranstouns of Oxenford from an early period until the middle of the 17th century.

The tower was planned as an oblong structure, measuring some 12m by 8.3m over walls averaging 1.8m in thickness. Only the S and E walls remain, rising to 15.24m in height. The masonry consists of coursed rubble, excepting at the angles, which are rounded and built with dressed ashlar.

The ground and top floors both appear to have been vaulted, and the upper area of the tower has been later converted into a doocot. The surviving openings have chamfered arrisses, while the only fireplace, on the second floor, has rounded arrisses. The traces of a turnpike stair can be seen rising in the S corner; it appears to have given access to the upper floors and at least one mural chamber.

The raised ground on which the tower stands has been defended by earth works; these are best preserved on the SW, where they comprise inner and outer banks and a medial ditch. The tower itself appears to have been surrounded by another rampart with inner ditch, of which only stretches to the S and W remain. Immediately to the SW of the W angle of the tower is the outline of a possible outbuilding.

The area to be scheduled includes the mound, tower house, earthworks and causeway, and an area around it which has the potential for associated archaeology. The area is irregular in shape and has maximum dimensions of 200m N-S and 165m E-W as marked in red on the attached map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an example of a 16th century tower house surrounded by earthwork defences. The scale of the defences and the extremely defensive nature of the site suggest that this was the site of an earlier earth and timber castle, such as a ringwork.

Thus, the site may demonstrate the development of the castle from an earth and timber construction to a tower house in the midst of a number of auxiliary buildings. The unusual construction of the corners of the tower enhances the importance of this monument. The archaeology of this monument has the potential to greatly increase our knowledge about the construction techniques, defences and function of such monuments.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NT 64 SW 1.

Bibliography:

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, vol. iii, 426-7.

RCAHMS (1915) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Sixth report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Berwick, Edinburgh, 125-6.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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