Smailholme Castle

Smailholm Castle, Roxburghshire

~ History ~

1408 ~ Robert, Douglas squire, is granted Smailholm by Archibald, the Earl of Dougla, lord of Galloway, Lochmabane, to Robert of Hoppringil.

1430 ~ Smailholm Tower is built.

1432 ~ David of Oppringill presents on bended knees to Archibald, earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway and Annandale, a petition to have the charter renewed in his favour as son and heir to his father Robert.

The tower undergoes extensive rebuilding work.

1450 ~ The Pringle family complete the building of the Tower as their wealth and prominence in this border country grows.

1513 ~ David Pringle loses four sons in the Battle of Flodden against the English. During the battle King James IV is also killed alomng with many Scottish nobles.

1535 ~ David Pringle dies. His heir John suffers greatly from border raids on his cattle and property.

1544 ~ Nearly a 100 people, 723 cattle and 108 horses are stolen across the Border area by English bandits including the garrison from Wark Castle in Northumberland.

1546 ~ During a cross-border attack by the garrison from Wark Castle, the English steal 60 cattle and capture 4 Scotsmen from Smailholm Castle. Within a month the same raiders return and attack the castle, but this time they manage to reduce the loss to just 6 cows. Eventually a truce is made whereby the Scots along the Border country pledge to cease their traditional raids on English lands in return for the attacks to cease. John swears and oath to cease any raids on English lands, or attack any English troops operating in Scotland. The attacks on Smailholm cease as a result.

1546 ~ Following two previous attacks on the castle, a garrison from Wark Castle sack the tower and carry off prisoners and cattle. Further raids only ceased when John Pringle promises to cease his cattle raiding across the Scottish Borders into England and to cease supporting Scottish resistance to English raids into Scotland.

John however begings work to further strengthen the castle from future attacks

1564 ~ John Pringle dies. His eldest son Andrew leases much of his father's estate to his cousin, George Pringle.

1640 ~ Smailholm is briefly occupied by Sir Andrew Ker and his forces as a prelude to the Civil War that was to come.

1645 ~ The Pringle's find themselves in a difficult financial situation and are forced to see Smailholm, which is bought by Sir William Scott, and ancestor to Sir Walter Scott, who sets about rebuilding parts of the Tower and Barmkin. He leases it to his couson Walter.

1700's ~ The Scott's leave the tower to the comforts of a more modern home they have built neaby which leads to is gradual disrepair.


Sandyknowe Farm, Smailholm, Kelso


B-roads off B6397



Perched on a rocky knoll above a small lake, high above the Scottish Borders commanding extensive views for miles around, Smailholm has to be one of the most evocative sights in the whole Scottish Border country.

Approaching the castle you get the feeling you have climbed upon the roof of the Border country with the Castle as its summit.

The location is simply spectacular and the restored tower in fantastic condition as the perfect picture of castle-finding in the Scottish Borders.