Whitslaid Tower was an ancient Berwickshire seat of the Lauder family for over 300 years. It is today a ruin high above the eastern bank of the Leader Water, 2 miles south of the burgh of Lauder, in the Scottish Borders.
Built on the banks of the Leader Water, Whitslaid Tower was the family seat of the Lauder family who were a prominent faction in the Border region and who were extensively involved in regional events. The remains of the Tower, which probably date from the sixteenth century, are ruinous and should be explored with extreme care.
The small Tower House at Whitslaid, on the banks of the Leader Water, was the seat of the Lauder family. The first mention of the site was made in the fourteenth century and suggested the Manor had been in existence for an extended period; a charter dated 30 June 1371 refers to the “ancient manor of Whitslade”. This document also informs us the then owner was Alan de Lauder who was the eldest son of John Steward, Earl of Carrick.
The castle itself, at least in its present form, seems to have been constructed around the sixteenth century. It is a square tower with a large vault on the ground floor with the Great Hall above. Originally a further floor existed with accommodation for the Laird but this collapsed in the late nineteenth century. Interestingly the structure has few dressed stones as part of its fabric – much of the stonework was rougher, unprepared stone quarried/collected locally. Originally the site was probably surrounded by a barmkin (curtain wall) with supporting buildings such as brewhouse, bakehouse and stables within.
The Lauder family were minor nobility but who were widely engaged in events in southern Scotland. At least two held the post of Steward of Kirkudbright, one was killed at the Battle of Flodden (1513) and in February 1572 they participated in an action defeating the Kerrs of Ferniehurst; notorious border reivers who made their fortune through theft, robbery and violence that defined the lawless border region. Such behaviour was not limited to the Kerrs however – in 1565 Alexander Home, Lord Home had been instructed to assist the Sheriff of Berwick with the apprehension of three members of the family who were suspected of the murder of one George Wedderat, Burgess of Lauder.
The Lauders retained Whitslaid until the mid-seventeenth century. Faced with financial difficulties, Gilbert Lauder sold the property in 1662 to a Mr John Peter.
Family connected with Whitslaid Tower