Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

The Towers of Rule project

As part of a broader bid for a Scottish Borders National Park status, a dedicated group aims to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Rule Valley by creating a trail in the vicinity of Jedburgh incorporating twelve of its ancient towers.

Archaeology Scotland have posted a number of videos on YouTube featuring some of their work on the Twelve Towers of Rule project.

The common theme is Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford’s, destructive raid of 1545.

A King's revenge which shaped the Border landscape

In 1545 Henry VIII’s forces were defeated by the Scots at Ancrum Moor – he wanted revenge.

The Earl of Hertford was ordered north with 12,000 foot and 4,000 horse with instructions to:

Burn and destroy the country about, sparing neither castle, town, pele nor village

Between the 8th and 23rd of September 1545 he dutifully 'brent (burnt), rased and cast downe'.

TOP: The site of the remains of Bedrule Tower
BOTTOM: Fulton Tower

Towns, villages, churches, abbeys, castles, towers, farms, barns and mills. Cattle were driven off and crops destroyed. Scots were chased from their homes, killed or held to ransom.

Hertford returned to England assured of a job well done.

Henry had demanded to be kept informed and Hertford had obliged with a series of dispatches listing property destroyed and lands wasted – fortunately for historians these survive.

LEFT: Timpendean
RIGHT: Fatlips Castle

Hertford reported twelve towers destroyed in the Rule Valley and the plan is to link them thus creating The Twelve Towers Trail. This is a tall order as first the twelve towers have to be located!

Hertford’s list of towers destroyed on the Rule Water, near Jedburgh included:

On the water of Rowle – Rowle Spittell, Bedrowle, Rowlewood, the Wolles, Crossebewghe, Donnerles, Fetton, Weast Leas, two walke mylnes, Tromyhill, Dupligis. Summa XII

Some of the twelve towers like Bedrowle (Bedrule) and Fetton (Fulton) are still readily identifiable, but others not so.

A recent grant to the group will facilitate their efforts to locate the remaining castles and begin to launch a trail connecting them. The Scottish Castles Association wishes them success.

Barnhills Tower

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 06 Feb 2021 Updated: 03 May 2021
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