Hume Castle

Castle Kelso Borders

Hume Castle

Castle In Kelso, Borders

A heavily modified ruin of an early 13th century castle held by the powerful Hume family.

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Perched on a hilly outcrop in the Scottish borders is an unusual crenelated building called Hume Castle. There is way too much history to unpack, so we'll give you a summary here and then you use the power of Google if you want to find out more.

It all started with William de Home in the 13th century who acquired the lands of Home (translated to a hilly outcrop or height) through marriage and he took his surname from the name of the land, which was a common custom back then.

It was presumed that William built the first castle here with the formation being square in shape. This was common for castles further north in the Highlands, but unusual for those in southern Scotland. Only 5 miles from the border, Hume Castle was constantly in the heat of battle and ownership was alternately in the hands of the English and Scots.

One such battle was when King James II used Hume Castle as his base while attempting to remove the English from Roxburgh Castle. Unfortunately one his cannons called The Lion, exploded and killed him while he lit the fuse.

If you have read our article about the Battle Of Flodden you will know this is where King James IV met his fate. The story goes that the 3rd Lord of Hume (Alexander) took on and defeated the English right flank, then withdrew from the battle after the king was killed, taking his body and hiding it in a cave at Hume Castle.


Spookily a skeleton was found in a well adjoining the cave in the 19th century, with a chain around its wrist. Unfortunately it mysteriously disappeared before anyone could find out if it was indeed the king.

The castle was improved by both the English and Scottish during their residency and even had a visit from Mary, Queen of Scots during her journey to England.

Then in 1651 Oliver Cromwell sent his roundheads up to destroy or possess the Scottish garrisons along the border. Colonel George Fenwick, who had just been made Governor of Leith and Edinburgh Castle, was in charge and sent a message to the Governor of Hume Castle, Colonel John Cockburn warning of his intentions.


Cockburn politely refused to surrender and cheekily stated that he didn't know who Cromwell was. He then sent a further message saying:


I, Willie Wastle
Stand firm in my castle;
And a' the dogs in your toun
Will no' pu' Willie Wastle doun.

Unfortunately, he was wrong and the medieval fortress was mostly destroyed, by close range bombardment by Fenwick's roundheads.

It wasn't until nearly 150 years later in 1789 that the castle got a bit of TLC and Sir Hugh Hume built the castle you see today from the ruins of the original. The new Hume Castle occupies a smaller castle than the old one, but you can still see part of the original inner wall. The crenelations were hugely exaggerated to provide an impressive view.

The castle is now owned and managed by the Clan Home Association and Historic Scotland and  is free to visit. Be prepared for amazing views over the beautiful Scottish countryside.

Where Is Hume Castle

Where Is It?

What three words
shunning.much.airless

Lat / Long
55.665171, -2.470924
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Where To Park?

What three words
able.tastes.talked

Lat / Long
55.664874, -2.472692

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There is a dedicated car park for the castle at the bottom of the hill.

Simon Hawkins

Place contributed by Simon Hawkins

Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue Pele tower up a remote hill or a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.

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