Down the Rocky Way to Smailholm Tower

Arty shot of Smailholm Tower

I happened across this spectacular tower house in the Borders by accident. It is an awesome site to visit and definitely worth a trip! I visited on a beautiful sunny day and I could see half of Scotland from the base of the tower. There is a carpark within striking distance of the tower – solid footwear is advised for the walk up to the tower. The tower was unfortunately closed to visitors during my visit due to the pandemic. However, you could still access the barmkin and the views from this area are truly breath-taking!

Smailholm Tower with barmkin wall in the foreground

The tower, which is associated with the Pringle family, appears to have been originally built between the mid 15th and early 16th century. It was constructed on a rocky outcrop on Lady Hill which has commanding views of the surrounding landscape. The tower survives to a height of about 20m with five stories and a stone flag roof. A courtyard is defined by a barmkin wall with the exposed foundations of a range of buildings on the north and south side of the courtyard.

Tower viewed from courtyard

The tower was originally held by the Pringle or ‘Hoppringle’ family who were associated with the Earl of Douglas. The tower was almost certainly build as a defensive structure as a response to raids various ‘visitors’ from south of the border. The tower was attacked in 1543, 1544 and in 1546 when the Smailholm was sacked.

In the 17th century the tower passed to the Scotts of Harden who were ancestors of Sir Walter Scott. Sir Walter Scott is reputed to have spent time at the tower during his childhood visiting relatives and the tower is mentioned in both The Eve of St John and Marmion, A Tale of Flodden Field.

Sir Walter Scott

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