Gilnockie Tower

Gilnockie Tower, Dumfries and Galloway


The Hollows, Canonbie


B Road off A7


DG14 0XD

Gilnockie Tower is a restored 16th century tower house, built near a loop in the River Esk on an important route into Scotland. The original earthwork castle is close by.

~ History ~

1518 ~ The Armstrong Clan build a tower house close to their abandoned timber castle castle.

1530 ~ King James V, having come of age decided the Armstrong Clan's growing influence and power needed checking. It is said that the Armstrong'scould muster an army of some 3,000 men, and this the King felt a threat to the peace and stability in region. He leads his forces through the Borders towards Armstrong territory. On the way he has many outlaws captured and sent back to Edinburgh for execution, in order to reistablish the King's law and order and for political purposes with the English. There he invites Johnnie Armstrong, a notorious plunderer and raider of the Border lands, to attend him with a promise of safe conduct. As soon as The Armstrong's turn up he has Johnnie and his 36 men hung on the spot without trial.

The murder causes at first, disbelief and then rage, not only with the local clans but throughout much of the borders. Clans come out in open rebellion against the King. Even the powerful Border barons turn against himl, citing such an act of supreme treachery against his own people.

1530 ~ The Tower is attacked twice, the second time being burned down by Lord Dacre. The Scottish Parliament had forbidden towers to be built in the borders near to England in order to try to secure peace in the area. However, at the time the Tower was attacked the first time, the Armstrongs were busy burning Dacres property at Netherby, which resulted in the second, successful, attack.

1542 ~ At the Battle of Solway Moss, the Armstrong's ignore the King's plea for help against the English. The Scottish army are utterly routed by the English.

1606 ~ Johnnie Armstrong's son and heir, Christopher, who was a child when his father died, himself dies. He is followed by his son William, who moves to Ireland, finding a life with King James VI of Scotland and now England not to his liking.

1619 ~ The tower passes to the hands of Sir John Ker of Jedburgh, andtwo years later  to the Earl of Buccleuch. The remaining Armstrongs however remain as tenants.