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The Hidden History of Cessford Castle

The Hidden History of Cessford Castle

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Cessford Castle is a ruined 15th-century castle located in the bonnie Scottish Borders. Located just 8 miles from the Scottish/English border, Cessford Castle was a strong, defensive castle, and was once the seat of the Ker family. In this edition of Secrets of Scotland, I’m talking about the history of the castle and tips for visiting.

Cessford Castle History

Cessford Castle. Credit: MacGibbon and Ross

Cessford Castle was built sometime around 1450 by Andrew Ker, an ancestor of Sir Robert Ker, the 1st Earl of Roxburghe.

It’s located just 2 miles from the village of Morebattle, which lies close to the English and Scottish Border. Due to its location, the castle was sure to see many bloody battles and skirmishes, and so it was built with this in mind- to withstand a full-scale siege.

The castle is an L-shaped tower, with walls that were once 4 metres (13 feet) thick! It housed the Ker family, their servants, and a garrison of up to 60 soldiers.

It was often attacked by the English, and a notable attempt was made by the Earl of Surrey in 1523. His men climbed the outer wall, covered by fire from eleven cannons and a company of archers, but could not get into the castle. Two smaller cannons then shot open a blocked window, and gunners shovelled four barrels of gunpowder into the chamber behind. The Scots took drastic action- burning the powder before it could be exploded, foiling the attack!

The Earl apparently commented that Cessford was the third-strongest castle in Scotland at the time!

It remained the family home until 1607 when the Ker family left Cessford Castle. Sir Robert Ker, who later became the 1st Earl of Roxburghe, moved to Holydean near Melrose.

The family eventually moved to the much grander home of Floors Castle. The family still resides here to this day!

Today Cessford Castle is mainly visited by those walking the long-distance trails, St Cuthbert’s Way and the Scottish National Trail.

Planning Your Visit To Cessford Castle

How to get there: Driving is your best option, however, there isn’t any designated parking, but you may be able to park along the country lane which is fairly quiet. There is a Peter Hogg bus you can catch from Kelso that stops in Morebattle- from there it’s a pleasant 40-minute walk along a country road.

Drive time: 1 hr 45 minutes from Edinburgh

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Cessford Castle is free to visit, but it is a crumbling ruin- so take extra care when visiting.

It is located in a paddock where sheep sometimes graze- make sure you close the gate to the paddock when you enter so you don’t set any wandering sheep free.

The entrance to the inside of the castle has been closed off, however, determined explorers have found a way through!

As you enter the grounds, there is an information plaque detailing the castle’s history.

Warning: Please take extreme care when exploring castle ruins- do not enter the castle and keep a safe distance from it.

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