Fatlips Castle

Fatlips Castle, Roxburghshire

~ History ~

1300's ~ During the Wars of Independence William Rule of Barnshill saves King Robert the Bruce when an enraged bull charges at the King. William, with a show of strength, manages to turn the head of the bull and force it to the ground. William is granted lands in Selkirk and adopt the name Turnebull.

1375 ~ Walter Turnbull receives a charter for the barony of Minto from King David II, son of Robert the Bruce.

Walter’s son, “Out with the sword”, John Turnbull, builds a tower upon the high  Minto Crags. This tower provides a distant view towards England, using bonfires to signal the occupants of Bedrule Castle, across the River Teviot to the south, of impending danger.

1502 ~ George Turnbull and twenty other assailents are imprisoned for the cruel slaugthter of Robert Oliver. The Turnbull's infamous behaviours see them return for further trials and imprisonment for the burning of seven horses, the slaughter of another horse, burning the place of the Laird of Riddale and stealing twenty four sheep and two cows, as well as the burning of Selkirk and theft of 1000 merks.

1513 ~ Following success at the Battle Flodden, Lord Dacre leads an English army of 5,400 north through the Rule Valley for further assault across the Scottish Borders. George Turnbull quickly rallies 700 Turnbulls, Kerrs, Douglases, and Scotts and defeat the invaders in the Battle of Sclaterford.

1587 ~ A raiding party, including the Turnbulls, backfires when all the cattle they have stolen, apart from twenty oxen, are rescued by the English. Twenty Scots, including two Turnbulls are slain as well as fourteen Englishmen in the skirmish. Later one hundred and sixty of the Scottish raiding party are captured and thirty are hanged.

1545 ~ Fatlips Castle is was destroyed by Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, sent by England's King Henry VIII who is pursuing Mary Queen of Scots' betrothal to his son Edward VI.

1857 ~ The tower is restored by Sir Gilbert Elliot as a shooting lodge. In later years the tower falls into disrepair.



Near Minto, Hawick


B roads of B6405


Nr TD9 8SH

Fatlips Castle is a border pele Tower previously known as Mantoncrake Castle, Catslick Castle, Minto Castle, and most affectionately as Fatlips Castle.

There is evidence of an older fort nearby to Fatlips, possibly from the Bronze Age. Little is known of that fort or how the site was likely used during the Roman occupation.

Legend has it the name Fatlips comes from the 'forward' habit of the original owners, the Turnbulls, of greeting lady guests with a kiss, instead of the time honoured and normal greeting of a bow.

Another more simple explanation is that its owner Turnbull had a prominent pair of thick lips. Alternatively a corruption over the centuries of 'Catslip'.

The climb to the top through the trees is a tough one and it is easy to get lost with the zig-zagging crossing of paths through the woods. Eventually your climb takes you to the top and the tower itself.

Following some outstanding restoration work the tower is a fantastic sight to behold against stunning views all around. Those that once lived in the tower were notorious but also lived in fear themselves. A fabulous find.