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Blackhouse Tower


towerBlackhouse Tower, 11 miles West of Selkirk off A708, is situated on Douglas Burn by Yarrow Water. Blackhouse was a stronghold of Sir James "The Good", Captain, friend & loyal supporter of Robert the Bruce.


This dilapidated tower of the late 16th century stands on the left bank of the Douglas Burn, in a remote valley. On plan it includes an oblong main block measuring externally 25ft. from N. to S. by 31ft. 9 in. from E. to W., and a circular stair-tower measuring 14ft. 6 in. in diameter which is situated at the SW. corner.

The masonry is rubble, roughly built and without dressings; such openings as remain are built without rebates for a case or frame. The walls are so much reduced that the first floor is fragmentary, while the undercroft shows two breaches, at the E. gable and on the SE. side of the stair-tower respectively, the missing part of the latter including the entrance.

Blackhouse was a forest stead, and in 1509 David Hoppringill of Tinnis obtained a nine-year lease of the property (Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, 1, 1488-1529, No.1858) The tower, however, is later than this, and may have been built by the Stewarts of Traquair, who owned the place at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.


Blackhouse Tower and Sir James Douglas
The Ettrick Forest or the 'Forest' as it was known has long connection with the earlier Scottish kings as a hunting area. The Douglas family were seen as the keepers of this area and it is after this family that the Douglas Burn is named. As far back as the 11th Century William, first Lord Douglas, had a Tower at Blackhouse, although the present day ruin is of a successor tower.


It was at the site of Blackhouse Tower that the Douglas Tragedy took place, the Douglas father and seven brothers being killed by Lady Margaret's lover. He himself was wounded and that night died close by St Mary's Loch. It is said that there are seven stones on the surrounding hillside to mark where the brothers were slain.


The second connection is through Sir James Douglas (1286 - 1330). In 1306 he joined Robert the Bruce and fought a campaign at Brodick. In 1308 he retook the family seat at Blackhouse then went on to fight at the Pass of Brander, Roxburgh and Bannockburn. He then was appointed Warden of of Scotland and led raids into England gaining the title 'Black Douglas'.


Location: NT 281273


Craig Douglas farm and Blackhouse farm are both in the hands of T Renwick & Son, Selkirk in 2019.  The Blackhouse estate was recently (2019) sold.



•  Canmore


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Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022