Once a powerful stronghold, Cowdenknowes House consists of a 16th Century tower house of four storeys and a corbelled-out parapet, formerly with a courtyard and flanking towers. To this has been added a mansion, dating from the same century. The walls are pierced with gunloops.
The property was owned by the Homes, and an older castle here, which was mentioned in 1493, was apparently destroyed at the beginning of the 16th century. Home of Cowdenknowes was a supporter of the Protestants at the time of the Reformation, and in 1582 was involved in the raid of Ruthven, when James VI was imprisoned in Ruthven Castle for six months. The house is still occupied but had passed from the family by the 19th century.
The Homes were apparently a cruel lot:
'Vengeance! Vengeance! When and Where?
Upon the house of Cowdenknowes, now and ever mair!'
Perhaps justified considering the two pit prisons.