Roxburgh Castle

Roxburgh Castle, Roxburgshire

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Kay Brae, Kelso 





Roxburgh Castle was once an impressive and important stronghold now reduced to fragments of walls and earthworks, with much of the masonry removed .

The Castle is not sign-posted but easy to find as it is directly adjacent to the road, albeit easy to miss if your not careful! There is a small lay-by next to the access point to the site. Strong waterproof footwear is recommended as the castle is very overgrown.

Floors Castle can be seen from the castle ruins.

~ History ~

1120 ~ King David of Scotland awards the burgh of Roxburgh royal status. Five years later he orders a castle to be built in order to protect the burgh, and to assert his authority in the region. The castle is called Marchmount Castle.

The castle is protected by the River Tweed as well as the River Teviot which is partially dammed to provide a water filled moat around his new castle. 

1174 ~ Following the capture by the English of King William the Lion of Scotland at Alnwick, the main strongholds in Scotland are surrendered to the English. This includes Roxburgh castle along with Berwick, Edinburgh and Stirling castles.

King William's gamble to reclaim Cumbria and Northumberland from the English whilst King Henry II is distracted trying to keep his vast continental empire entact, backfires in defeat and humiliating capture.

1189 ~ King Richard I of England, in desperate need for money to fund his Crusade to the Holy Land, sells Roxburgh Castle back to the Scottish Crown.

1291 ~ Follwing the death of King Alexander III of Scotland, King Edward I of England is invited by the Scots nobels to arbitrate between rival claimants to the throne. Seizing the opportunity to make Scotland his vassal state, Edward demands all Scottish castles under Crown ownership to be placed into his custody, including Roxburgh.

1292 ~ Edward announces his verdict at Berwick Castle in favour of John Balliol and Roxburgh is ceded to the new King.

However within a few years, John has defied Edward igniting the First War of Scottish Independence.

1296 ~ The Scots uprising ends in defeat at the Battle of Dunbar with the English overunning the Scottish Borders with Roxburgh once more coming under English control.

1306 ~ In order to try and bring Robert the Bruce to heel, the English capture and then hold his sister Mary in a cage from the walls of Roxbugh Castle.

1307 ~ King Edward I dies and is followed by his weak and ineffective son Edward II. Roxburgh castle is recpatured as a result. However, the English manage to recapture and garrison the castle.

1313 ~ Robert the Bruce's most trusted captain James Douglas captures the castle with just sixty hand picked men. They approach the castle under cover of darkness draped in black cloaks to fool the garrison into thinking they are simply cattle. They then scale the walls and surprise the startled English.

1314 ~  King Edward II's ineffective grip on Scotland is finally thrown off after his invading army is defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn.  Roxburgh Castle is secured back in Scottish hands for the remainder of the fight for independence.

1333 ~ Following the English victory at the Battle of Halidon Hill, King Edward III's forces overrun the Scottish borders and Roxburgh Castle is recaptured. 

1342 ~ With English interests shifted to France and the Hundred Years War, the Second War of Scottish Independence erupts and the castle is attacked and retaken by a Scottish force led by Sir Alexander Ramsey. The English later retake the castle.

1377 ~ The Scots destroy the burgh of Roxbugh whilst the English are forced to hide behind the walls of the castle.

1398 ~ The Scots return to Roxburgh and again raise the burgh to the ground whilst the English garrison watch helplessly from the safety of their castle. Archibald Douglas is unable to take the castle.

1411 ~ William Douglas leads a Scottish force to take the castle but is also unsuccessful.

1417 ~ William Douglas returns and  the castle is besieged, holding out despite the use of artillery against its walls.

King Henry V of England orders repairs made to the castle following the siege.

1436 ~ Another siege against the castle, this time led by King James I himself, is repulsed and the Scottish King is later driven off by the arrival of an English force mustered by Thomas Langley, Prince-Bishop of Durham. The King's hasty flight to avoid capture results in him leaving his large artillery train to be captured by the Roxburgh garrison.

1460 ~ At another siege of the castle, this time led by King James II of Scotland, he is killed when one of the cannon's used to bombard the castle walls explodes. The Queen, lodging at Hume Castle, rushes to the scene and within a few days the young James III is crowned at Kelso Abbey. Under the command of George (the Red) Douglas, Earl of Angus, the Scots storm Roxburgh killing the entire garrison.  The castle is slighted to prevent it being held against them should it be later retaken by the English.

1547 ~ Roxburgh remains an abandoned ruin until it is captured by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset during the 'Rough Wooing' campaign to force the marriage between Edward VI of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. The English re-occupy the site of Roxburgh Castle which they then rebuild as an artillery fort. However a peace treaty is soon agreed under the Treaty of Norham just three years later, including a clause which includes the rebuilt Roxburgh Castle to be demolished. This is duly carried out and it is never rebuilt by either country.