Border Strongholds

Liddel Castle

The original Liddel Castle is believed to have been built by the Lord of Liddesdale, Ranulph de Soulis during the 11th century. He chose a formidable site with a precipitous cliff on one side and a natural gully on another side.

In 1207, a later de Soulis was killed within the castle bounds by his own servants. It was here, in 1296, that Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, stayed one night on a journey he made from Roxburgh Castle to Liddesdale.

The Strength was later taken by the English and it became one of a line of English defences. The whole system is immense. It almost forms a square of about 300 feet and its present height from the bottom of the ditches to the top of the motte is 88 feet and no doubt much greater when the castle was in use. 

Liddel Strength proved to be a massive obstacle to the Scots, but eventually it fell into their hands.

In 1346, the English Royal Constable, Sir Walter Selby attempted to hold the fortress against the onslaught of a Scottish army led by David II. Having only 200 men, the garrison held out for six days but was eventually overwhelmed and all the survivors were put to the sword. Selby was made to watch while his two sons were strangled and then he himself was killed. 

At the peak of reiver activity, the Strength was used as a base against the reivers.

Part of Cromwell’s army stayed at Castleton for several nights. They broke into the kirk and used it as barracks. It was during the winter of 1649 and to keep warm they broke up and burnt much of the wooden furniture. Books were used as firelighters and so many precious records were totally destroyed.

The castle was destroyed and then rebuilt by successive owners but it eventually succumbed to the hands of local builders who used its stone as a quarry.

Little is now left of the castle except for bumps in the field and signs of the village can be seen extending to the road. 

It is reported that there can still be seen a large flat stone, three feet long, with a hole 8 inches square in the centre said to be the socket for the village cross. 

(I have never located it – Tarras) 

During the 18th century the village became a ruin, and the Duke of Buccleuch allocated a site about two miles down the valley on which the present day Newcastleton was built. 

A few of the original cottages in Newcastleton still exist with 1793 carved on their lintels. Look where the cottages face the river. 

To locate the castle site, first take the road north from Newcastleton and then on to the B3657. In about half a mile you will see the humps of the castle on the left. 
Map reference 79  510 900 

Nearby is Castleton Cemetery which contains many interesting headstones of local Border families. 

Th cemetery is about a mile down the road towards Newcastleton. There is a small car park.

Map reference: 85 402 742

Take the road north from Longtown and at Carvinley and there bear left to High Moat Farm. Liddel Strength is about half a mile from where you  park your car.