Gilnockie Tower is typical of the towers or bastle (Fr. bastille) houses that dot the Border country of Scotland.
The towers not only provided the Border laird and his family a place to live, albeit stark and functional, but also a strategic defence point against marauders. Often these structures were enclosed by a stone wall or ‘barmkin’.
Gilnockie Tower is in Armstrong country, on the banks of the River Esk, and it is regarded as one of the finest and best-preserved examples in Scotland. Everyone had their ‘castle’, and one can imagine Johnnie Armstrong, a famous reiver, agreeing that:
‘Not a man amongst them of the better sort hath not his little tower or pile.’
‘Gilnockie Tower’ near Canonbie, in Dumfries and Galloway, South-west Scotland. From John Parker Lawson’s Scotland Delineated. London: Day and Son, 1858.