Border Castles and Towers

Roxburgh Castle


The elevated site of the castle is located a mile and a quarter from Kelso on the road to Melrose.

The castle can be accessed from the road but is perhaps best seen from a footpath by the river.


Roxburgh Castle was in its day one of Scotland's principal fortresses, ranking with the great castles of Stirling and Edinburgh, and the home of many Scottish Kings.

Nothing now remains of the castle but the ruins of the postern gate.

The castle was almost impregnable having thick high walls in a very strong position guarded by the river. Over a long period, it was held by the English who, from their commanding position, brought untold misery and humiliation to the neighbouring Scots.

Below the castle walls lay a considerable town, the royal burgh of Roxburghshire.

Now there is no trace of it except for grassy mounds which can be seen in the grounds of the castle.

In 1460, King James II was killed here when one of his own cannons exploded and a Holly tree now marks the spot in the parkland of the castle.

In 1312, Sir James Doubles, a close friend of Robert Bruce, took a force to the castle one dark night. It was an English holiday and the garrison was celebrating with wine and song in the great hall. There was much noise and merriment.

A few soldiers had been posted as lookouts but paid more attention to the party than to their duties feeling very secure.

Very cautiously, shielded by the darkness of the might and the noise from the castle, Douglas and his men approached the foot of the castle walls and took up their positions. They wore dark cloaks over their armoured clothes and, although they were seen by some of the more alert and sober sentries, it was assumed that they were only cattle on the move.

A rope ladder was thrown over the parapet and found itself anchorage on the masonry. The noise draw the attention of a guard, but before he had time to discover its cause, a Scots dagger was plunged into him.

Like a modern SAS attack Douglas and his men swarmed over the battlement and all the sentries were soon disposed of.

The attackers then made their way to the great Hall where the noise was by now beginning to subside as the wine took its affect. Flinging open the doors the attackers swarmed in with cries of 'A Douglas! A Douglas!.' 

The surprise was complete and there was little resistance. The Scots force was not slow in avenging the wrongs of the past. No one escaped.

Roxburgh Castle was Scots once again.

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