Horsburgh Castle

Horsburgh Castle, Borders

~ History ~

1230 ~ Simon de Horsbroc witnesses a charter at Melrose Abbey.

1296 ~ A decendant of Simon, another Simon de Horsbroc fights against the English King Edward I alongside Sir Simon Fraser. Together they resist resist the English invaders.

1297 ~ Seeing the relentless might of the English forces, Simon switches sides and fights for King Edward I at the Battle of Flnaders against the French.

1298 ~ Edward I issues a decree conferring re-ownership of the Horsburgh castle and appointed as the guardian of the forest Selkirk. Later the same year Simon Horsburgh is knighted. The following month he is killed during an armed clash in the forests of Selkirk.

1300 ~ Simon Fraser supports King Edward I in the siege of  Caerlaverock Castle

1302 ~ King Edward appears in Peebles to investigate which of the local magnates has rebelled against his rule. This results in the lands and castle of Horburgh being granted to Robert Hastings, Constable Roxburgh with rents payable to the Crown. 

1306 ~ The Frasers fight alongside Robert the Bruce in the lost battle of Methven. Simon Fraser is captured and later executed on the scaffold.

1333 ~ The Horsburgh castles and estates are returned to the Horsburgh family by King David II of Scotland,

1474 ~ Alexander Horsburgh is charged with hunting without a permit in the royal forest of Ettrick, but is pardoned by King James III.

1479 ~ Alexander Horsbrugh is recorded as being the owner of Horsbrugh castle, upon which time his lands are split in two, Over Horsbrugh and Nether Horsbrugh.

1503 ~ Alexander together with William Veitch of Dawick are sentanced to a fine of ten pounds for the killing without permission of two deer in the Royal forest of Etterick. They are later pardoned by the King.

1519 ~ Alexander is imprissoned in the prison of Peebles.

1526 ~ During the Battle of Melrose, in which guardisanship of the young King James V of Scotland had been secured by Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus and was being challenged by the Earl of Arran, the ensuing battle sees the Earls men take the upper hand, until Andrew Kerr of Cessford caste rides to the aid of the Douglases, resutling in victory. As the Earls men retreat, Andrew Kerr is killed. A deadly feud between the Kerr Clan and the Earls liege Clan the Scotts begins to last generations.

Later the same year a a further attempt to snatch the King from the Douglas clutches results in the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge.

Alexander Horburgh is charged with the murder of Andrew Kerr, but is later pardioned. He dies the following year.

1527 ~ Alexander's son John, is confirmed as owner of Horsburgh.

1540's ~ John Horsbrugh rebuilds Horsbrugh and Nether Horsbrugh castles.

1550 ~ John Horsburgh dies. His son, Alexander Horsburgh inherits his fathers estates.

1552 ~ Alexander marries Christian Stewart, the daughter of William Stewart, 2nd Laird Tranquair, and in doing so becomes a distant relation of King Robert III of Scotland,King Edward III of England and King Philip IV of France.

1565 ~ Alexander becomes an adviser to his brother-in-lnaw Sir John Stewart of Tranquair. Sir John as captain of the guard of Queen Mary Stewart visits her in his estate at Tranquair the following year, in which among the guests greeting the queen was also Alexander.

In later years Alexander Horsburgh leaves politics to concentrateon the management of his Horsburgh estate,  leasing both Horsbrugh Castle with mill and Nether Horsbrugh castles and lands.

1581 ~ Alexander's son, also named Alexander is confirmed by the King as being owner of the Horsburgh estates and Baron of Horsburgh.

He takes an active part in local Border politics as acting sheriff of the city and county Peeblesshire.

1604 ~ Alexander hands over the lease of the land to his cousin Harcus, which results in a number of feuds with rival families, court cases and even attacks on the castle.

1623 ~ The disputed lands of Horsburgh are finally resolved in confirming the Alexander as owner of the Horsburgh estates, but the Barony of Nether Horsburgh Castle passes to Sir Robert Stewart and his heirs, thus dividing the Horsbugh lands and castles.

1640 ~ Following many years as sherif ofy Peeblesshire, Alexander dies.

1655 ~ Alexander's second son William is confirmed as owner of Horsburgh. Like his father he too takes up the office of sheriff and is an active supported of King Charles II and member of Parliament.

1701 ~ Alexander dies, leaving his son and heir, also Alexander to inherit his estates and titles.

1706 ~ As member of Parliament, Alexander votes on the union of Scotland with England which takes place the following year.

1708 ~ During a failed attempt invasion by James Stuart, Alexander Horsburgh appointed acting sheriff Peeblesshire is seconded to the arrest of Charles Stewart on charges treason.

Horsburgh Castle was now in a state of disrepair, having already purchased lands and moving to Edinburgh.

1732 ~ Alexander Horsburgh dies, leaving his son John as his heir. He later serves as Judge of the Peace and later still tax commissioner.

1774 ~ John dies leaving his son Alexander to inheit his lands, finally recieving them five years later.

1785 ~ The Horsburgh lost castle and lands of Nether Horsburgh come up for auction, but Alexander forgets the date and misses the chance to but back his family former lands. He serves as a magistrate.

1820 ~ Alexander dies in his home in Edinburgh.

1852 ~ Alexanders son, Captain Thomas Horsburgh serves in the British army until his death of this year, dying childless without an heir.


Glentress,2 miles south-east Peebles




Nr EH45 8NB

Horsbrugh Castle stands on a prominent hill high above the River Tweed, and was one of a chain of castles along the river. Named after the Horsbrugh family who owned it back in the 13th century. The family took their name from the tributary that runs into the River Tweed, Horse Brook.

It can be seen from the main road, where there is a side road where you can safely park, with a short walk up the hill to the ruin.

It is not until you reach the ruin you realise the wonderfull commanding views not evident from the roadside.