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Cranshaws Tower



Cranshaws Tower
Photo by Lisa Jarvis
Cranshaws Castle is a well preserved, inhabited peel tower thought to date from the later 14th century. Rectangular in plan, it measures 40ft by 26ft and is 65ft high. The rounded corners are particularly interesting, being reminiscent of other late 14th century towers such as Drum or Neidpath.

Built by the Swinton family, resident in Cranshaws until the early 18th century, the tower became the stronghold of the Douglases and subsequently, the Douglas Earls of Morton. It was they who were responsible for alterations to the tower during the 18th and 19th centuries. With no indication that there was a kitchen in the main block, it is assumed that ancillary buildings, enclosed by a barmkin, would originally have surrounded the 5-storey structure.

The 13th Earl of Morton (1738-68) is said to have removed the ground floor vault so as to increase the space within, and it is possible he also removed the ancillary buildings, leaving the tower as a replanned, re-fenestrated self-contained block.

1884 description: The fine old peel tower called Cranshaws Castle, standing towards the centre of the northern section, measures 40 by 24 feet, and is 65 feet high ; a former stronghold of tie Douglases, and the haunt of a drudging brownie, it now is the seat of the eldest son of the Earl of Morton, Sholto-George-Watson Douglas, Lord Aberdour (b. 1844), who, holding 2551 acres in the shire, valued at £1050 per annum, divides this parish with 2 other landowners. It is in the presbytery of Dunse and synod of Merse and Teviotdale.

Andrew Smith, an Edinburgh brewer, purchased Cranshaws estate from Lord Aberdour, eldest son of the Earl of Morton in the late 19th century, and work on the tower's parapet is thought to date from this period.

Robert Hurd & Partners were commissioned to refurbish the structure in 1978, and little appears to have changed since then. Well detailed both inside and out, there are numerous features which, although not necessarily 14th century, contribute greatly to the whole.

The sundial and well within the grounds are inscribed 'A S', 'I F S' and 'A S', 'I F L' respectively, referring to Andrew Smith and Mrs Ida Frances Landale (later Smith). Both their initials can be seen on the nearby gateway to Cranshaws Farm stable courtyard. Swinton burial ground, thought to date from the 16th century, is set to the SW of the tower.

See also:
•  Dunbars Vs Douglas

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024