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EDRINGTON, Berwickshire, the castle and early references


Carr’s Coldingham Priory states that Edrington derived its name from its contiguity to the river Whitadder but he does not further explain how he associates the names.  James Logan Mack (The Border Line, Edinburgh, 1924) suggests that “it is no doubt the case that what is now the Whitadder was formerly the Adder, and Edrington, Adderton, or Addrington. In Berwickshire to this day, the reptile known as the adder is frequently called an ‘ether,’ and Edrington in like manner was pronounced ‘Etherington.’”  He refers to Edrington as “one of the earliest Border strongholds. The ancient castle occupied the summit of a steep bank above the Whitadder, and must have been a place of considerable strength and importance.”

An early reference to Edrington is in Coldingham Parish & Priory (by A.Thomson (Galashiels, 1908) which mentions charters (c.1097) of King Edgar by which were granted the profits of the mansions of, inter alia, Fulden & Hadrington [Foulden & Edrington] “for the souls” of His House [i.e. the Priory]. 

There is a reference in the year 1304 to ‘the King’s lands of Edringtone,’ and also to the King’s mill there in Joseph Bain’s Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland (Edinburgh 1888). [All lands were held by the superior landlord, from The King.] However, in a small booklet - The Parish of Mordington -  (by Mrs. W.R. Johnson, Berwick- upon-Tweed,1966) the authoress suggests that the King was Edward the First of England. These were disputed lands, as we have already seen, above, with the charters referring to King Edgar, although Edrington has always been firmly in Scotland.

We now come to the ancient family of Lauder of Bass, for centuries the proprietors of Edrington. The family of Lauder came to Scotland with Malcolm Canmore, and are recorded as "prominent from 1320" and amongst those "below the rank of earl who have been considered as belonging to the Scottish higher nobility between 1325 and 1349."  (Essays on the Nobility of Medieval Scotland  edited by K.J.Stringer, Edinburgh, 1985, refer pps: 214, 225, and 229). 

This family had campaigned with both Sir William Wallace, and Robert The Bruce who had appointed Sir Robert de Laweder of the Bass Justiciary of Scotland South of the Forth.   On the 28th July 1328, Robert the Bruce granted a charter of restitution to Sir Henry Percy of all his father's lands and rents, etc., in Scotland. Witnesses to this charter included Roberto de Lawedre, father (or senior), Knight. (p345, [172]) (Anglo-Scottish Relations, 1174-1328 edited & translated by Professor E.L.G.Stones, Oxford, 1965).

John J.Reid, B.A.,F.S.A.,(Scot) writing in The Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (14th December, 1885), on Early Notices of the Bass Rock and its Owners stated: "Sir Robert of Lauder of Bass was, in 1329, employed on a mission to England, no doubt diplomatic in its character, and payments out of public funds amounting to 60 were made to him for the expense of his journeys to London and York. In 1330 he possessed hereditarily the fishings of Edrington [Berwickshire] and was Keeper of Berwick Castle and Sheriff there.”

In the accounts of Sir Alexander de Seton, Collector of the Burgh of Berwick 16th March 1331, it states:   "Allowed to accountants for the fisher [fishing rights] of Edermouth [Whiteadder] now in possession of Sir Robert de Lawder by right of inheritance [author’s italics]; paid to Robert de Lawder balance of his fee of 50 merks, 6.13s.4p; and for his fee due at Martinmas, 33.6s.8p." (Refer: Berwick-upon-Tweed, the History of the Town & Guild by John Scott, London, 1888, pps.248/9.)  Another notice indicating the very local connection is the following: "Roberto de Lawedre, Militibus, Justiciario Lowdonie" was a witness in a charter granted by Randolph, Earl of Moray, to John, Earl of Angus, of Morthyntoun [Mordington] in 1331. (See The Douglas Book by Sir William Fraser, charters, No.16, p.14). Edrington to this day lies within the parish of Mordington.

“Sir Robert Lauder or Lavedre - both father and son were present at the battle of Halidon Hill, in [20th July] 1333." (History of the Province of Moray, by Lachlan Shaw, 3 vols.Glasgow 1882)  The famous chronicler Knyghton also states that Sir Robert senior was present but did not take part due to the fact that he was unable to dismount from his horse in full armour owing to his advanced age. Halidon Hill is just two miles from Edrington Castle. J.Stewart Smith (The Grange of St.Giles, Edinburgh, 1898) states that “the eldest son of Lauder of Bass took Edrington during his father’s lifetime”.

Mr.Logan Mack (above) then refers us to a charter of 1335 whereby the village and fishings of “Eddermouth” are bestowed upon William de Pressin, Lord Warden of Jedburgh Forest. But this undoubtedly is a charter by the English King, this being shortly after the battle of Halidon Hill, when He was confiscating properties of families known to be loyal to the Scottish Crown.

In A Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, 1307-1357 (edited by Joseph Bain, vol.III, Edinburgh, 1887, pps: 218/219) there appears a charter dated circa 1335 which mentions numerous properties in and around Berwick-upon-Tweed which Robert the Bruce had granted to Sir Robert de Louwedere (another spelling in the same charter is Lowedre) senior, and his son Robert. Berwick having now fallen into the hands of the English, Robert de Lawedre junior is forfeited of these properties which are then granted by Edward III of England to Adam of Corbridge.

The Great Seal of Scotland states that in 1376 Adam de Paxtoun forfeited Edrington Mill, (which lies immediately below the hamlet of Paxton, on the opposite side of the Whiteadder, and directly below Edrington Castle) due to his part in a rebellion at that time. However I can see no record anywhere that de Paxton had held property at Edrington from the Scottish Crown, and one wonders whether this had been an English, and therefore temporary, ownership also. Possibly his “part” was to take the English side in a Scottish revolt. Cleary it reverted to the Lauder family, as they continue to be recorded as such in Scottish annals.

"Robertus de Lawedre de Edryngtoune de Scotia, mils."[knight] is mentioned along with "Venerabilis pater Wills epus Glasguen' cancellar' Scotie [William Lauder, Bishop of Glasgow and Chancellor of Scotland] and Patricius de Dunbar de Bele de Scotia, mils, under date 12th May 1423 in the "Rotuli Scotiae". Again on the 19th August 1423 when he was envoy for the ransom of James 1; and again on 3rd December of that same year. Joseph Bain (1888), quoting from Foedera and other original documents, confirms this.

On the 14th December 1425 (The Great Seal of Scotland number 29), he was invested in the seniority of the family estates:- "The King confirms to Robert de Lawedre of Edringtoun, knight, justiciario Scotia, the lands of le Crag, Balgone, the Bass, Edringtoun, Simprin, Easter Pencaitland, Newhall, etc"., for him and his legitimate heirs.  According to Alexander Nisbet (Systems of Heraldry. Edinburgh,1722) he was Justiciar of the Lothians.  Describing him as “Roberto de Lawedre de Edringtoun militi,” J.J.Reid (1888) mentions that this Sir Robert was also an Auditor of Exchequer and between 1425 and 1433 he was Governor of Edinburgh Castle. His name can be seen today on the Table of Governors on display in the Great hall at Edinburgh Castle.

His son thereafter took Edrington, and we find a charter by Sir James Hamilton of Cadzow dated 7th September 1439 confirming a charter by Robert Lauder of Edrington to Robert Lauder, his son, of the lands and patronage of Auldcathie in Linlithgowshire. (See: The Binns Papers 1320-1864, Scottish Record Society, 1936, number 545/1, p.110).  In The North Berwick Story (by Rev.Walter M.Ferrier. North Berwick,1980) it is noted that Sir Robert de Lawedre de Eddringtoun, knight, endowed an alter to St.Mary in North Berwick Church on 4th March 1435.  Further, in a charter dated 20th June 1443 re the lands of Hownam, Robert of Lawadre of Eddringtoun appears as a witness (Duke of Roxburgh’s Mss - Historical Mss.Comm. 14th Report).  On 20th June 1443 Robert Lawadre [Lauder] of Eddrington, William Hepburn, David Home son and heir of Sir David Home, George Home and Thomas Home all witnessed a charter signed at Dunglas.(MSS. of Duke of Roxburghe, Hist.Mss.Comm. 14th report.) 

James Logan Mack (1926) states that “about the year 1450 Edrington was conveyed by James II of Scotland to Robert Lauder of Bass” but as we have noted they were already designated “of Edrington” so this must have been another reconfirmation.

I have not found the property in any other Scots’ possession nor this charter, but certainly in another Great Seal charter dated 25th April 1450 of the lands of Popill, [today’s Papple] in Haddingtonshire, to a David de Lawder, it is mentioned that he is a nephew of Robert Lawder of Edringtoune. The same "Robert de Lawedre Lord of Edrington, militibus" appears as a witness to a charter to "Patrick de Dunbar de Bele, militi", signed in the castle of Bele and confirmed at Edinburgh 24th April 1452. (See: "The Great Seal" number 547).

"About 1462 Berwick Castle was put into the hands of Robert Lauder of Edrington, an important official and soldier in Scotland at that time. Lauder kept his position uninterruptedly till 1474 when he was succeeded by David Earl of Crawford. In 1464 Robert Lauder was paid 20 for repairs made to Berwick Castle." (Berwick-upon-Tweed, The History of the Town and Guild by John Scott, London, 1888.) (See also, a further appointment, below). Robert de Laweder de Edringtoun is the first witness to a Retour of Service dated 1467 of Margaret Sinclair as one of the heirs of her grandfather John Sinclair in the lands of Kimmerghame, Berwickshire. (Hist.MSS Commission)

In a charter of 1471 the King confirms to Robert Lauder son and heir apparent of Robert Lauder of Edrington, the lands of Edrington and Coalstell with the fishings of Edermouth [Whitadder] plus the mill there [at Edrington] which Robert the father personally resigned to Robert junior and his male heirs failing which those relations bearing the Lauder arms. The spouse of Robert senior gave her consent and is recorded therein as Jonette (Great Seal, no.1045).

In a further charter signed at Edinburgh 26th June 1474 and confirmed there on 27th July 1475, the King confirms a charter of Robert Lauder junior, Lord of Edringtoun, as superior of West Nisbet, to David Creichtoun of Cranstoun and his heirs, the lands of West Nisbet in the barony of Pencaitland, Haddingtonshire, which John de Colquhoun of Luss has resigned into the said Robert Lauder junior's hands. Witnesses included Robert Lauder of Bass, father of said Robert junior, and a William Lauder. (Great Seal, no.1202 with a reconfirmation in no.1299 on 9th July 1477).

On 20th January 1477 the King appointed Robert Lauder of Edrington as custodian of the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed for five years with a retainer of 200 merks per annum.(The Great Seal).   However we know he was not at the castle the following month, as on 2nd February 1477, King James of Scotland advised the bearers of the instalment of Princess Cecilia's dower that he has sent, amongst others, Robert Lawdir of Edrington, son and heir apparent to Robert Lawdir of the Bass, to conduct them to Edinburgh.

(Refer:  "Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland" 1357 - 1509, vol.IV, edited by Joseph Bain, Edinburgh, 1888, number 1445, p.294).

On 3rd February 1478 Robert Lauder was reappointed Keeper of the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed at a salary of 250 per annum. He continued till the last year of Scottish occupation, when Patrick Hepburn of Hailes had possession. (Berwick-upon-Tweed, The History of the Town and Guild by John Scott, London, 1888.) The printed Exchequer Rolls ( vol.IX, 1480-1487, pps: 63/4. 81, 145 & 157,, edited by George Burnett, LL.D., Lyon King of Arms, Edinburgh, 1886) record that payments were made to Robert Lauder, Captain and Keeper of the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1480 and 1481.

In July 1482, Edrington Castle was burnt by the Duke of Gloucester’s army but was soon afterwards rebuilt and fortified by order (and presumably paid for) of the Scottish Parliament.

On 12th September, 1489 a Charter signed at Linlithgow from King James IV confirmed “to his squire, Robert Lauder of Edrington” various lands. This Robert Lauder of Edrington had married Isobel Hay, daughter of John Hay 1st Lord of Yester, (a descendant, appropriately, of Robert The Bruce), and his wife Mary Lindsay.

The printed Exchequer Rolls (vol.X, 1488 - 1496, pps: 652, 679 & 738, edited by George Burnett, LL.D., Lyon King of Arms, Edinburgh, 1887) records Robert Lauder of Edrington in possession of the lands of Glensax in Yarrow, Selkirkshire in 1489/1490/1491.

Robert’s father evidently lived for a long time as the son appears in a great many charters and documents styled “of Edrington” right up to about 1495 when he succeeded to all the family estates. (All in The Great Seal).

Various charters of further confirmations of Edrington to the Lauders exist throughout the following century including number 3330 confirmed 29th March 1509 which mentions the next Robert Lauder of Edrington and his father Sir Robert Lauder of Bass [who had married Isobel Hay]; and on 29th April 1519 Sasine from the Crown, was confirmeded to [the new] Robert Lauder of Bass, as superior, of the "[lower] half of island of The Bass [the superior of the upper half was The Church, which Lauder held by feu]; the lands of Edringtoun with tower, mill, and fishing rights and all pertinents extending to [at least] 15 husbandlands &c. (Refer:The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland 1513 - 1522, edited by A.E.J.G.Mackay, M.A.,LL.D., vol.XIV, Edinburgh, 1893, pps: 619-620.)

About 1540 the Lords of Council issued a summons against Ninian Trotter at the instance of Robert Lauder of the Bass, who claimed that Mr.Trotter had interferred with people using Robert Lauder's mill at Edrington in Berwickshire. Trotter had now abducted and imprisoned Mr.Rauf Cook from Berwick, who, with Lauder's consent, "had come to grind his corns at the said Robert's mylne forsaid."  (p.447).

On the 24th May, 1542, there is recorded a dispute between Robert Lauder of the Bass and Robert Dury of that Ilk, over the ownership of "certain Melrose lands." (p.519).  (From: "The Acts of Lords of Council in Public Affairs, 1501 -1554" Edinburgh, 1932, p.447.)

About 1546 Edrington Castle was again captured by the English and in that year the Scots demanded that “their house of Edrington” should be immediately restored to them; and in accordance with a Treaty concluded in the church at Norham, Edward VI delivered it up.

The Lauder family were renowned Royalists, -  in The Register of The Privy Council of Scotland (vol.III, Edinburgh 1880,p.118/119) it is recorded that Robert Lawder of Bass had loaned two thousand pounds to Queen Mary and Darnley. This Robert was with Queen Mary at Carberry Hill on 14th June 1567, and subsequently at the battle of Langside, - and on 5th July 1568, at Edinburgh, Casper Home was granted an escheat of the goods of Robert Lawder of Bass, including his cattle and other goods on the steading and lands of Eddringtoun and the dues of the mill thereof, in the sheriffdom of Berwick, the said Robert being convicted, become in will, fugitive or at the horn for taking part with Archibald Earl of Argyll, Claud Hammiltoun, and others at Langsyde or for not finding surety to unerlie the law for art and part in the slaughter there of one James Ballany. (Refer: "Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland" 1567 - 1574, vol.vi, number 355, p.76, edited by Gordon Donaldson, D.Litt., Edinburgh, 1963.) This escheat was later removed by a Precept of Remission.

This last Robert Lauder of Bass (died June1576 - Testament) was unlucky with his sons. His eldest, Sir Robert Lauder of Poppill, predeceased him (April 1575) as did at least one other, John, who died about 1574. The next in line was James, Dean of Restalrig, who was subsequently murdered by his uncle Walter Lauder in October 1580. The Bass and all other Lauder lands usually held in chief by the head of the family then devolved upon the next brother, also a cleric, George, then rector of Auldcathy, a Lauder possession in Fife.

In charter number 688 of The Great Seal, a reconfirmation at Holyroodhouse on 21st March 1598, of, amongst a vast list of baronies, estates and lands, we find Eddrington belonging to Sir George Lauder of Bass (knighted 1590) who was a Privy Counsellor and  personal friend of King James VI and tutor to his son, Prince Henry.  Sir George, like several of his predecessors, married late in life Lady Isabella, sister to Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton .  This charter also confirms the superiority of Edrington to his only son and heir, George junior (b.1597).

George’s younger brother, William, was at sometime confirmed to Edrington. In the Journals of Sir John Lauder, Lord Fountainhall, 1665 - 1676" (edited by Donald Crawford, Edinburgh, 1900, p.202) Sir John states that during a journey he made with his father to the Borders in 1670 he "saw Paxton, and Edringtone a part of [Lauder of] Basses lands, and given away to a brother; now belongs to my Lord Mordington". The younger brother was subsequently described as William Lauder of Edrington in a precept of clare constat containing a precept of sasine dated 7th September 1587 granted by his brother George Lauder of Bass, (but possibly only then as a feuholder of his brother).

A Sasine (RS25/22 fol.82, registered 10th March 1634 the late William Lauder of Edrington is mentioned as having received the abovementioned  precept of sasine dated 7th September 1587 from Mr.George Lauder of Bass as heir to the deceased Patrick Lauder his brother, and on 28th March 1588 the said William was "infeft as heir to his late brother in an annualrent of ten merks yearly to be uplifted from the lands of Mekilrig and another annualrent of seven merks to be uplifted from the lands of Stenton."  These were subsequently confirmed on William's son Robert as we note from a Duns Sheriff Court Deed (SC60/56/1) dated 6th November 1622 that Robert is now referred to as "of Edrington" indicating that William the father was now dead.

When Sir George Lauder of Bass died in 1611 he left a considerable estate of moveables which alone were valued then at circa 26,000 (Testament). Lands were dealt with separately and in any case Sir George had already invested his son in the family estates. However, this was the century of absolute corruption in Scotland (and also the century from which most Scottish titles date!) When Sir George died his heir was only 14 years old and his estate was placed in the hands of Curators, the principal being his mother.

They handled matters badly and by 1626 young George and his mother were in some difficulties with a forced sale of the Tynninghame Estate to “new money”, which they had owned since the twelfth century, imminent. It also heralded the approaching end of this family’s long ownership of Edrington.

A Sheriff Court Deed from Duns (SC60/56/1) dated there on 6th November 1622 records an Alexander Lauder “brother to Robert Lauder of Edrington” in conjuction with an Alexander Torie in Over Mordington, a nearby estate. A sasine registered on 10th March 1634 (RS25/22 fol.82) mentions “the late William Lauder of Edringtoune” [uncle to the last George of Bass] and his “eldest lawful son and apparent heir, Robert.”  Robert’s brother Alexander is also mentioned here and we note from the Edinburgh Apprentice’s Register that they had another brother, “William, son to William Lauder of Edrington”  who was indentured in 1609.  Robert was still alive in 1642, living off the annualrents of Poppill in Haddingtonshire, (Sasine RS25/30 fol.172), but his “of Edrington” designation is by then missing. In this Sasine, Robert was now resigning them to Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton.

In The Cockburns of that Ilk and their Cadets*,  Isobel, a daughter, it is said, of a John Lauder of Edrington is recorded as having married Captain Walter Cockburn, brother of John Cockburn of Tretton. She was dead by July 1628 and it is not clear who her father was, as there has not been a John lauder of Edrington. But he may have been a son of one of the last Robert Lauders of Bass, the last two dying in 1561 and 1576 respectively, or of the already mentioned William Lauder of Edrington (d:c1622). (*The compiler of these volumes, Cockburn-Hood, is known as much for his good work as for his errors.)

There are several mentions in The Great Seal of transfers/sales of Edrington in the 17th century including one to a James Livingston, ‘a gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber’ (hardly the heroic and dashing knight that the Lauders were!), confirmed at Whitehall on 31st January, 1632; and another to John Hamilton of Skirling in September 1641. But they appear to have been wadsets with legal reversions. Certainly that seems to be the case with regard to John Hamilton. 

Interestingly, the next charter of note, identical in wording to that of James Livingstone, above, was confirmed on 18th January 1634 to Richard Lauder, Laird of Haltoun. But again, there was clear mention of a legal reversion if certain debts were paid and that again appears to have happened as we find on 28th October 1635 all the lands in the original charter of 1632 reverting to the lackey James Livingstone, this time confirmed at Hampton Court.

However the one with which we are concerned with here is The Great Seal charter number 1021, registered at Edinburgh on 15th November, 1641. It contains a long list of old Lauder lands, “resigned by James Livingstone,” which had also been [previously?] resigned by the last Lauder laird of Bass, George, and his mother, Isobella Hepburn, Lady Bass, and which were now being confirmed upon her brother Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton.

These lands included Edrington in Berwickshire. It is thought that as the Lauders were renowned Royalists and Sir Patrick being a commander in the Covenanting Army this was a good secure move. However, it was not.  In under five years these lands passed (The Great Seal 5th August 1646) to his son, “John Hepburn, apparent of Waughton, and Lady Marie Ross his wife, John being the son and heir of Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton, knight” who had died. John was an Episcopalian minister and a Royalist.

John Hepburn of Waughton was forced to resign Edrington in charter 1948 dated 1st March 1648 to James Scott, a merchant-burgess of Edinburgh. Mr.Scott was dead by June 1653 when his wife, Jeanete Archibald, was described as his relict in a charter of that date. It then passed to another of his family, probably his son, Patrick Scott, who also became a merchant-burgess of Edinburgh (Burgess Roll 10/1/1655), and who was designated “of Edringtoune” in a charter dated 22nd February 1653 when he was confirmed in the lands of Langshaw in the barony of Melrose.

There was, in this latter Great Seal charter, mention of other kin: the Scotts of Harperrig & Clerkington. The aforementioned Richard Lauder of Haltoun (d.1675) was married to Marion daughter of Sir Lawrence Scott of Harperrig & Clerkington, so possibly there is a indirect family connexion with Edrington here. Patrick Scott of Edrington & Langshaw was married to a Curie Durie. It is possible that here is another connections, as in 1542, the Lauders had legal dealings with Durie of that Ilk over lands at Melrose.

Patrick resigned “the lands of Edrington,” with fishings etc., and “the manor-place,” in conjunction with a James Winraham [we know not how he came to have some part in the sale. Possibly he was a creditor with a wadset], on 16th June 1661 by sale, recorded in The Great Seal,  to James [Douglas], Master of Mordington, “eldest lawful son of William, Lord Mordington and his heirs male, whom failing, to William Douglas his next younger brother and his heirs male, whom failing to Francis Douglas his second brother” etc.

Included separately in this charter are “the town and lands of Nether Mordington with manor-place and mill”. Here ends any Lauder connexion with Edrington. An indirect link was through the new owners, the Lords Mordington, who were descended through the Douglas of Whittinghame family who had intermarried with the Lauders of Bass about 1537. 

The last Lord Mordington was a Jacobite and was forfeited. He died s.p. Uncles did not claim the title and it fell dormant.  Edrington Castle it would appear was eventually superseded by Edrington House, the present mansion of that name, built about 1750 presumably by the descendants of Lord Mordington, on the site of the manor of Nether Mordington [see: Timothy Pont’s map of Mercia in Blaeu’s Atlas].

A Great Seal charter dated 13th September 1636 grants to the Rev. Thomas Ramsay, (of the Iddingtoun family - today’s Edington, nr.Chirnside) minister at the kirk of Foulden, and Helen Kellie his spouse, the town and lands of Nether Mordington, with the manor and mill sometime built upon by the said Thomas, etc.

Mrs.W.R.Johnson (mentioned above) asserts that “early records show that in 1622 a deed was granted by Lord Mordington giving to his brother Joseph Douglas the lands, crofts and tofts with the house of Edrington.” She goes on to say that “there still remains in the garden fragments of a sundial bearing the inscription “Joseph de Mordington 1622”. Such a transaction does not appear in The Great Seal or in Sasines and I suspect that she must mean Nether Mordington, today called Edrington House, as we know from above that the Edrington castle and estate did not pass to the Douglases until 1661 (with another confirmation on 2nd August,1662.)

When that happened the charter mentions again the town and lands of Nether Mordington, with manor place and mill, built by the now deceased Mr.Thomas Ramsay [d.Sept.1650], once minister of Foulden.  Also, the “house” of Edrington in 1622 was still the castle. Importantly, the sundial mentioned above says “of Mordington,” not Edrington, and Mrs.Johnson continues that “close by Edrington House once stood a flour mill.”   This is almost certainly the mill of Nether Mordington mentioned in the above charters relating to Nether Mordington with the manor of that name, rebuilt by Thomas Ramsay, and which appears on the stream just below the manor on Pont’s map.

Mrs.Johnson says of Edrington castle that “at the close of the eighteenth century the tower and battlements were substantially intact” and H.Drummond Gauld (Brave Borderland. London 1934) states “towards the close of the 18th century Edrington castle was still four storeys in height, a commanding ruin perched on the pinnacle of a crag clothed with trees. On the western side the castle was inaccessible and was well adapted to stem the torrent on incursion from the English shores of the Tweed. James Logan Mack too said that “after the Union [1707] it was suffered to fall into decay.” The Old Statistical Account of Scotland ( vol.15. c1795) mentions “Edrington castle, ruins, demands our notice.” 

One hundred years on the Ordnance Gazetteer (Edinburgh 1885) was still referring to Edrington castle as “a ruined fortalice”. But The Castellated & Domestic Architecture of Scotland from the 12th to the 18th Century, (vol.IV, Edinburgh, 1892) says that it was by then “a mere fragment of an ancient castle; a place of some importance in the Border wars.”  Later, Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bt.,(The Story of the Tweed. London,1909) notes: “Edrington Castle, opposite Paxton, once a place of great strength and importance, has been quarried away to near ground level”.

The Sixth Report & Inventory of Monuments & Constructions in the County of Berwick (HMSO, Edinburgh, 1915,) states “this castle is situated about three and a half miles west of Berwick, on a rocky bank above the Whitadder. A mere fragment remains, adjoining and incorporated in the farm buildings.”  Mr. Drummond Gould (1934) laments that the castle “has suffered more from the attentions of local vandals than it ever did from the English.”

By 1892, the year of publication of the abovementioned architectural survey, a Mr.Edward Grey had completed a new house nearby called Cawderstanes, with some cottages also adjoining the castle. Almost certainly his builders have been some of the vandals Mr.Drummond Gould mentions. A sad and sorry end to a Scottish fortress seemingly overlooked today by all but those responsible for the Ordnance Survey, who still mark on their maps “Edrington castle.” 

G.M.S.Lauder-Frost, F.S.A.,(Scot).
lauderfrost@btinternet.com

[A shorter version of this article appeared in The Borders Family History Society Magazine issue number 41, October 1999, ISSN 0268-5701.]


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