Liddel Castle

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Liddel Castle is a ruined castle in Liddesdale, by the Liddel Water, near Castleton in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland, in the former county of Roxburghshire. Liddel Castle is a scheduled monument.  Liddel Castle was presumably built by Ranulph de Soules as the caput of the barony granted him by David I (1124-53), whom he accompanied to Scotland. There appear to be no records of it after the early 14th century.

It seems likely that Riddel Castle was amongst the lands transferred to Douglas when forfeited by the de Soulis family following Sir William Soulis's conviction for treason by Robert the Bruce, c1320.

To secure his release from captivity, The Knight of Liddlesdale promised to the following terms: (a) his surrender of Liddel Castle, (b) loyalty to the English king against all enemies—excepting the Scots, unless he (Liddesdale) so desired; and (c) the surrender of his daughter and nearest male heir (his nephew, James de Douglas) for a period of two years. In return, Douglas would gain his freedom and would be granted the territory of Liddesdale, Hermitage Castle, and certain lands in Annandale.  Many considered this traitorous.

Liddel Strength


‘Liddel Strength’ was once a medieval stronghold known variously as the ‘pele (or peel) of Liddel’, ‘castle of Liddel’, ‘tower of Liddel’, ‘mote of Liddel’ and ‘Liddel moat’. First mentioned in 1174, this scheduled monument is situated near the village of Kirkandrews Moat in Cumbria and was once the seat of the Cumbrian barony of Liddel. It stands 160 feet above the Scottish border on the Liddel Water, near its confluence with the River Esk and has often been confused with Liddel Castle near Castleton in Liddesdale on the Scottish side of the river.

On or around the the 7th October 1346, the castle, Liddel Strength, was attacked by a Scottish army intent on invading northern England while the English army was in France, besieging Calais. A force under William Douglas arrived outside the castle walls in the morning to be joined later that day, by the rest of the army under David Bruce, the king of Scotland. For three days the Scots did nothing; then on the fourth day they attacked and with ‘beams, house-timbers, earth, stones and fascines, succeeded in filling up the ditches of the fortress…then, protected by the shields of men-at-arms, broke through the bottom of the walls with iron tools’ and almost all of the forty defenders were slain and the castle destroyed.

The keeper of the fortress, Walter de Selby, was captured; then, rather than being held for the usual ransom, the king ordered him to be killed but not before – according to the chronicler, Geoffrey le Baker – he was forced to watch his two sons strangled in front of him (though there is contrary evidence to suggest that at least one son was taken prisoner); thereafter, Walter himself was beheaded. The Scots’ chevauchee was brought to a dramatic halt when they were routed at Neville’s Cross near Durham about a week later, at which point David began an eleven year period in English captivity.


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    Last modified: Sunday, 02 June 2019