Ancient Monuments

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Whitslaid Tower

A Scheduled Monument in Leaderdale and Melrose, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.6924 / 55°41'32"N

Longitude: -2.7054 / 2°42'19"W

OS Eastings: 355755

OS Northings: 644547

OS Grid: NT557445

Mapcode National: GBR 92KM.28

Mapcode Global: WH7WB.D6Y0

Entry Name: Whitslaid Tower

Scheduled Date: 10 March 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8880

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: tower

Location: Legerwood

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Leaderdale and Melrose

Traditional County: Berwickshire


The monument consists of the fragmentary remains of Whitslaid tower. It occupies a site of considerable natural strength, having the Leader Water on the W side and a deep ravine to the N. The lands of Whytslaid are mentioned in a charter of Robert II, dated 1371. In the mid-17th century, the tower was owned by William Montgomery of Makbiehill. The tower itself probably dates from the 16th century.

The tower was planned as a simple oblong, measuring some 7.6m by 5.1m within walls averaging 2.1m in thickness, built in rubble masonry. The N wall has collapsed into a tumbled mass, revealing the barrel-vaulted basement. The main entrance to the tower was at the N end of the E wall giving direct access to a vaulted basement lighted by a narrow opening in the S wall.

From the S in-go of this doorway, a flight of straight steps ascends in the thickness of the S and E walls to the great hall on the first floor, and at least one upper floor. The first floor is now ruinous, with few identifiable features apart from a recess in the SW angle, which has evidently served as a latrine, having a built flue with an outlet near ground level.

The collapse of the N wall of the tower destroyed several features that were recorded earlier this century, namely two windows that lit the upper end of the hall and the hall fireplace. The upper part of the castle appears to have been reconstructed in the form of a gabled house at a late date, in a similar fashion to Barns Tower (Peebleshire), with which it shares several features.

The area to be scheduled includes the tower house and an area around it, which has the potential for associated archaeology. The area scheduled is square in shape and has maximum dimensions of 30m N-S and 30m 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. The straight stair rising within the wall thickness and serving the upper floors of the tower, is an unusual feature. 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



RCAHMS records the monument as NT 54 SE 1.


MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries', II, 5v, Edinburgh, Vol. 5, 352-3.

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, 126-7, No. 241.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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