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Buncle Castle




Buncle Castle - remainsLittle remained of Bunkle Castle in 1915. It was in a similar condition in 1834, though the NSA adds that 'it seems to have been a place of considerable strength, surrounded by a moat, now greatly filled up. It was once the residence of the Stewarts'.
New Statistical Account (NSA, A M'Conechy: written 1834)

The remains of Bunkle Castle occupy a natural knoll which has been artificially scarped and levelled and has a ditch on the N, W and S sides. All that survives of the castle is a stretch of curtain wall running N-S, 20m long by 1.2m high and up to 1.6m thick, and to the NW a large portion of masonry 4.0m long by 4.0m high and 1.0m thick. The interior is irregular and overgrown and no buildings or walling can be identified. The castle is approached on the NW by a causeway and there is also a possible entrance in the S, indicated by a distinct break in the steep scarp.

The fragmentary remains of a stone curtain wall stand in the NW quadrant of a roughly circular earthwork measuring up to 57m in diameter over a much spread inner bank. The earthwork has been fashioned from a natural knoll, around the base of which there is a broad ditch accompanied on the NW by slight traces of an outer bank. An entrance on the SE side may be original.
RCAHMS 1980, visited 1979; E Talbot 1975.

Although only a few yards from the road from Duns to Reston it is very easy, particularly in summer time, to drive past the not exactly inspiring remains of Bunkle Castle without even noticing although at one time the building must have been quite an imposing structure. Built on what has been described as a natural knoll but perhaps a Norman motte the Castle has a long history as borne out by the well known Berwickshire rhyme;
'Bunkle, Billie and Blanairne
Three castles strong as airn
Built when Davie was a Bairn
They'll all gang doon,
W' Scotland's Croon
An ilka ane shall be a cairn'.

The Davie referred to would be King David 1 of Scotland (1084 to 1153). More or less all trace has been lost of both Billie and Blanairne and even their exact location is in dispute.

The earliest records show the Castle as belonging to Sir Alexander de Bonkle and there is a legend concerning how the original owner refused to pay the builder who in revenge gained access to the Castle by subterfuge while the Lord was absent and slew his wife and their baby.

However in 1298 through marriage the property came into the possession of Sir John Stewart second son of Alexander, the Steward of Scotland who was created Earl of Angus by Robert the Bruce. Later again through marriage it passed into the hands of the Douglases.

Archibald the Sixth Earl of Angus in 1514 married Margaret sister of Henry V111 of England and widow of King James 1V of Scotland who had died at Flodden the previous year. This was a highly unpopular marriage and the marriage itself soon ran into difficulty so much so that Angus fled to England for safety. In 1524 he returned to Bonkyl and wrote a letter to his wife trying to effect a reconciliation.

The letter (State Papers, Record Series Vol 1V p.217) commences;
"In my most humble and lowly manner I commend my service to your Grace.
It will please your Grace to know that I have been with the King your brother the which is one of the most cristened (Christian) Princes and his Grace has entreated me so marvellous well that he hath addebted me to do his Grace service and honour so far as lies in my power - mine allegiance accepted to the King (James V of Scotland) and your Grace...." and finishes "At Bonkle the first day of November by the hand of your humble servant.

See also:
Dunbars Vs Douglas



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