Scottish Border Peel Towers

Peel towers are small fortified keeps or tower houses, built along the English and Scottish Borders, intended as watch towers where signal fires could be lit by the garrison to warn of approaching danger. By an Act of Parliament in 1455 each of these towers was required to have an iron basket on its summit and a smoke or fire signal, for day or night use, ready at hand.

These tower sprang up in the border from the 12C but a line of these towers were built in the 1430s across the Tweed valley from Berwick to its source, as a response to the dangers of invasion from the English and the Southern Marches.

The interactive map above shows the Peel Towers of the Tweed – click on the red icons for more information

Apart from their primary purpose as a warning system, these towers were the homes of the Lairds and landlords of the area, who dwelt in them with their families and retainers, while their followers lived in simple huts outside the walls. The towers also provide a refuge so that, when cross-border raiding parties arrived, the whole population of a village could take to the tower and wait for the marauders to depart.

Peel towers are not usually found in larger places which have a castle, but in smaller settlements. They are often associated with a church.

In the Tweed valley, going downstream from its source, they were as follows:

Upper Tweed Valley

  • Fruid Tower
  • Hawkshaw Tower
  • Oliver Castle
  • Polmood Tower
  • Kingledoors Tower
  • Stanhope Towers (North and South)
  • Mossfennan Tower
  • Wrae Tower
  • Dreva Tower
  • Drumelzier Tower
  • Tinnis Castle
  • Stobo Tower
  • Dawyck Towers (West and East)
  • Easter Happrew Tower
  • Lyne Tower
  • Barnes Tower
  • Caverhill Tower
  • Neidpath Castle
  • Peebles Castle
  • Horsburgh Tower
  • Nether Horsburgh Tower
  • Cardrona Tower
  • Innerleithen Tower

Lower Tweed Valley

  • Purveshill Tower
  • Kirbie Law Tower
  • Elibank Castle
  • Ashiestiel Peel Tower
  • Torwoodlee Tower
  • Old Buckholm Tower
  • Halliburton Tower, Galashiels
  • Hillstop Tower, Langshaw
  • Langshaw Tower
  • Smailholm Tower
  • Purveshaugh Towers (three)
  • Greenknowe Tower
  • Hume Castle
  • Leitholm Tower
  • West Nisbet Tower
  • Duns Tower
  • East Nesbitt Tower
  • Norham Castle
  • Edrington Castle
  • Berwick Castle
1 2 3 4