Notes: Located north of Kelso off the B6364, the castle (or rather the folly) is visible from some distance. A dedicated car park is provided for visitors.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A few masonry remains of the original castle predominantly from buildings inside the original rectangular enclosure. The vast bulk of that defensive wall has been buried under the hideous eighteenth century folly built on top. Good views of the surrounding countryside from the horrific fake parapets.
1. James II stayed at Hume Castle in 1460 whilst besieging nearby English-held Roxburgh Castle. During this operation he was killed when one of his own cannons exploded in his vicinity.
2. Hume Castle was used as a beacon to warn of English invasion throughout the medieval period. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it performed the same function but was now on the alert for an invasion by Napoleon. On 31 January 1804 the alarm was raised when a fire from charcoal burners on nearby Dirrington Law was mistaken as a beacon. When the Sergeant in charge of Hume lit his own beacon, the result was a chain initiation across the Scottish borders and the mobilisation of a 3,000 strong force. This became known as the 'Great Alarm'.
3. Home or Hume? The two names refer to the same border family. Allegedly a formal change from 'Home' to Hume' was made as a result of the disaster at the Battle of Flodden (1513). When Alexander, Lord Home led his troops he screamed his battle cry "A Home! A Home!" prompting a portion of his forces to leave the field. In reality it was probably the deadly English arrows that encouraged his men to leave Flodden Field and the real reason for the difference in name is probably a series of typos.
Hume Castle was built in the thirteenth century and, like any border stronghold, saw its fair share of conflict. It was captured by the English during the Rough Wooing and later burnt by the forces of Elizabeth I. Finally Cromwell's army destroyed the castle during the invasion of 1650. Today the site is dominated by a hideous eighteenth century folly.
HISTORY OF HUME CASTLE
Hume (also known as Home) was first granted to Ada who was daughter of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar in 1214. She married William of Greenlaw and they made Hume their principal seat (and became known as Home thereafter). Built upon a natural outcrop of rock, the castle was constructed in a rectangular courtyard plan; a common configuration seen in the Highlands but quite unusual for central and southern Scotland.
Located under five miles from the English border, the castle doubled as a beacon to warn of invasion. Its defences were never substantial enough to repel a large army and it is perhaps for this reason that Robert the Bruce didn't destroy Hume concurrent with his slighting of nearby castles in the border region in order to deny their use to the English during the first War of Independence.
In 1547 the castle's then owner - George Home, Lord Home - was mortally wounded in the Battle of Pinkie (1547). This was part of the War of the Rough Wooing (1543-50) in which Henry VIII of England sought to compel a marriage between Prince Edward (later Edward V) and Mary (later Queen of Scots). Aside from the death of George, his son Alexander had been captured by English forces. When the English indicated they would execute her son, George's widow Mariotta surrendered Hume Castle to the English on 22 September 1547. Occupation was short however as, after his release from English custody, Alexander rallied his forces and re-captured the castle in December 1548 slaughtering the entire garrison.
The War of the Rough Wooing became an irrelevance from 1550 and a period of peace ensued between the two nations. But border skirmishes frequently occurred. Hume Castle itself was attacked in 1569 by English forces under Thomas Radclyffe, Earl of Sussex in retaliation for Alexander Home having switched his support to the (deposed) Mary, Queen of Scots. Although she was a prisoner of Elizabeth I, her Catholic credentials made her a rival to the Protestant English Queen and Home's support to her cause, complete with his border castles (including Fast Castle), was extremely unwelcome.
The end came for the medieval castle in 1651 when Parliamentary forces under Colonel Fenwick attacked the fortification as part of the wider invasion of Scotland. Equipped with heavy artillery Hume was reduced to a ruin. It remained so until 1789 when the castle was rebuilt in its current form by Sir Hugh Hume, Earl of Marchmont. The castle was acquired by the State in 1929.