The Borders

Cabinet 3

Gilnockie Tower is typical of the towers or bastle (Fr. bastille) houses that dot the Border country of Scotland.

‘Gilnockie Tower’ near Canonbie.

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.