TIMPENDEAN TOWER

Timpendean Tower was built in the late fifteenth century adjacent to the site of an earlier fortification. It was attacked by the English during the War of the Rough Wooing but was later repaired and, in the seventeenth century, was expanded by the addition of a new wing.

History

 

The remains of the first fortification at Timpendean can be seen today in the form of a rectangular earthwork. Its configuration, including rounded corners, has led some to conclude the site was previously a Roman fort. This is almost certainly erroneous with the shape of the ditches and ramparts instead suggesting an early medieval origin. It is probable these defences were augmented by a timber palisade protecting some form of manor house. The site was located near the convergence of the River Teviot and the Ale Water with the former providing access to Kelso and beyond. The name Timpendean, which was originally called Tympenden, derives from the Celtic terms din pen denu meaning the "valley by the hill with the fort".

 

The land was acquired by the Douglas family and formed part of their estate of Bonjedward. In 1479 George Douglas of Bonjedward granted Timpendean to his son, Andrew, and it was probably he or his immediate heirs who built the Tower House. This was a substantial structure with walls almost two metres thick and standing four storeys tall. The tower was built from rubble - stones split in two with the smooth face forming the inner and outer sides of the wall whilst the gaps were filled by small stones cemented in place by lime mortar. Dressed ashlar was used for the corners and features. As was standard the ground floor consisted of a vaulted storage area whilst a hall would have occupied the first floor and accommodation on the upper levels. A circular staircase provided access to all levels. Traces of a barmkin, a curtain wall that would have surrounded a courtyard filled with ancillary buildings, are visible from aerial photographs. There was also a dam and water filled area adjacent to the tower which provided both resources (water and fish) and additional defence.

 

Timpendean Tower was attacked in 1545 during the War of the Rough Wooing. An English force under Edward Seymour, Earl of Hereford invaded southern Scotland in an attempt to compel a marriage between King Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots. The tower suffered extensive damage but was repaired after the war and in the seventeenth century was augmented by a new wing. The vaulted store room of the latter was converted into a kitchen with the substantial fireplace still visible today. The site was sold to William Kerr, Marquis of Lothian in 1843 and at some point thereafter was abandoned and allowed to drift into ruin.

 

Bibliography

 

CANMORE (2016). Timpendean Tower. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Coventry, M (2008). Castles of the Clans: the Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. RCAHMS, Musselburgh.

Dixon, P (1975). Fortified houses on the Anglo-Scottish border. University of Nottingham, Nottingham.

Lindsay, M (1986). The Castles of Scotland. Constable, Edinburgh.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T (1887). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. Edinburgh.

Nisbet, A (1816). A system of Heraldry. Edinburgh.

Reid, S (2006). Castles and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans 1450-1650. Osprey, Oxford.

Simpson, W.D (1959). Scottish Castles - An introduction to the Castles of Scotland. HM Stationery Office, Edinburgh.

 

What's There?

The remains of a major medieval castle. The Keep stands to near its full height and there is access to a roof top view from the structure. Also visible are the earthworks of the (much larger) Roman fort which provided the stone for the later castle.

Additional Tower. Around the seventeenth century the tower was augmented by an additional structure as evidenced by the projecting bonding stones that can be seen here.

Tower Interior. The tower is ruinous and should be viewed with care.

Getting There

Timpendean Tower is located within Farmland but a public right of way enables access from Sharplaw Road just to the north of Jedburgh. There is a small lay-by for parking or alternatively park in Jedburgh itself and walk (approximately 2 miles).

Car Parking Option

TD8 6SQ

55.493822N 2.556174W

Timpendean Tower

No Postcode

55.496363N 2.578401W

The footpath to Timpendean Tower is accessed from Sharplaw Road.