All the remains of Eddington Castle

All the remains of Eddington Castle

Edrington Castle

Edrington Castle is in the parish of Mordington and the county of Berwickshire. It is a ruined fortalice in Mordington parish, Berwickshire. Crowning a steep rock on the left bank of Whitadder Water, 5 miles W by N of Berwick, it seems to have been a solid substantial strength, well fitted to check incursions and depredations from the English side of the Tweed, on the W being totally inaccessible. It figures frequently in Border wars and treaties; and, having for some time been held by the English, was restored in 1534 by Henry VIII. to James V. Down to the close of last century it continued to be four stories high, but is now reduced to a small fragment. Modern Edrington Castle is in the immediate vicinity of the ruins; and Edrington House stands on the E bank of a small tributary of the Whitadder, 4 miles WNW of Berwick.

All the remains of Eddington Castle

All the remains of Eddington Castle

Tytler states that during the crisis of 1481 the Border barons and those whose estates lay near the sea were commanded to put into a posture of defence their various castles, one of which was Edrington. In July 1482, Edrington Castle was taken and burnt by Richard (the future King Richard III), Duke of Gloucester’s army but was soon afterwards rebuilt and fortified by order (and presumably paid for) of the Scottish Parliament.

Pitcairn records on 7 April 1529, a “remission to Robert Lauder of The Bass and eleven others for treasonably intercommuning, resetting and assisting Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus (who had been forfeited), George Douglas, his brother, and Archibald, their uncle” whom Lauder had given refuge to in his castle of Edrington. The Douglases went into exile across the border.

About 1546 Edrington Castle was again captured by the English and in that year the Scots demanded that “their house of Edrington” should be immediately restored to them; and in accordance with a Treaty concluded in the church at Norham, Edward VI vacated it.

Edrington Castle as a residence, it would appear, was eventually superseded by the Pele Tower at Nether Mordington, today Edrington House, probably when it was rebuilt about 1750. [See: Timothy Pont’s map of Mercia in Blaeu’s Atlas]. The Parish of Mordington says of Edrington castle that “at the close of the eighteenth century the tower and battlements were substantially intact”; and H.Drummond Gauld (Brave Borderland, London 1934) states “towards the close of the 18th century Edrington Castle was still four storeys in height, a commanding ruin perched on the pinnacle of a crag clothed with trees. On the western side the castle was inaccessible and was well adapted to stem the torrent on incursion from the English shores of the Tweed.” James Logan Mack too said that “after the Union [1707] it was suffered to fall into decay.” The Old Statistical Account of Scotland (vol.15. c1795) mentions “Edrington Castle, ruins, demands our notice.”

One hundred years on, the Ordnance Gazetteer (Edinburgh 1885) was still referring to Edrington castle as “a ruined fortalice”. But The Castellated & Domestic Architecture of Scotland from the 12th to the 18th Century, (vol.IV, Edinburgh, 1892) says that it was by then “a mere fragment of an ancient castle; a place of some importance in the Border wars.” By 1892, the year of publication of the abovementioned architectural survey, Mr.Edward Grey, the new owner, had completed a new country house nearby called Cawderstanes, with some cottages also adjoining the castle incorporating parts of it. Almost certainly his builders have been responsible for quarrying the stone from the castle for the big house.

By 1909, Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bt., notes: “Edrington Castle, opposite Paxton, once a place of great strength and importance, has been quarried away to near ground level.” The Sixth Report & Inventory of Monuments & Constructions in the County of Berwick (HMSO, Edinburgh, 1915,) states “this castle is situated about three and a half miles west of Berwick, on a rocky bank above the Whitadder. A mere fragment remains, adjoining and incorporated in the farm buildings.” Mr. Drummond Gauld (1934) laments that the castle “has suffered more from the attentions of local vandals than it ever did from the English.”

The lands of Edrington are the site of Edrington Castle, which was ‘one of the earliest border strongholds’ (‘The Border Line’, James Logan Mack, Edinburgh, 1924) and which was probably built by the Scots to watch the English castle of Norham on the south bank of the Tweed (‘the daungerest place in England’ – Leland). The two castles are within sight of each other. The castle was held by the Lauders of Bass for nearly 300 years (‘Lauder of Edrington’, Gregory Lauder-Frost, ‘Borders Family History Society Magazine’, October 1999). In 1892 the castle was described as ‘A mere fragment of an ancient castle on the rocky bank of the Whitadder, 5 miles N.W. of Berwick. A place of some importance in the Border wars, it continued, till the close of the 18th century, four stories in height.’ (‘The Castellated & Domestic Architecture of Scotland from the 12th to the 18th Century’, David MacGibbon & Thomas Ross, 1892). The castle passed through the hands of various owners in the 17th century and was probably not in the best state of repair by the 1660’s.

Whatever the condition of the castle, the owners of the joined estates of Nether Mordington and Edrington clearly preferred to live in the recently-built manor place of Nether Mordington, which they altered and enlarged. Nonetheless, the formal territorial designation ‘of Edrington’ (with its castle – even if ruinous) was deemed preferable to ‘of Nether Mordington’ and that designation was therefore adopted (Joseph Douglas is described as ‘Joseph Douglas of Edrington’ in a petition to the Court of Session in 1748). In any event, the Douglas family of Over Mordington were already known as ‘of Mordington’. Being ‘of Edrington’ the next step was to rename the manor place from ‘Nether Mordington’ to ‘Edrington’. The lands of Edrington were sold off in the 1830’s and are now known as Cawderstanes, after a house of that name built near the castle ruins in 1892, probably using stone from the castle. Thus Nether Mordington became Edrington and Edrington became Cawderstanes.

Grid reference: NT 9404 5339

Lat / long: 55.773804, -2.0965735

Clans connected with Edrington Castle