Fatlips Castle - The Burning Beacon 2013
Restored to her former Glory, Fatlips Castle in April 2013. Photo by Andy Laing.
The door to the castle is kept locked however the key is available from Thos. B. Olivers Garage in Denholm https://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/thosb.oliver?fref=ts
There is a £10 deposit to be paid, £5 of which is returnable and £5 goes towards the upkeep of the castle.
This much loved wee tower sits high on a rocky hill in the Scottish Borders known as Minto Crags.
Fatlips a brilliant place both historically and to the present-day visitor.
Historic Scotland and Scottish Borders Council approved funding in 2011 to secure a weather-proof roof over it's head to protect the castle for us and for future generations of Border explorers.
(18th Nov 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-15777199
Fatlips is a place for everyone. Saving this castle shows the public that Historic Scotland and Scottish Borders Council have their interests at heart and have listened to the hundreds of pleas to help save this local landmark. For their generous contributions in this time of recession I would like to extend my thanks, on behalf of every supporter, for saving their castle.
Another thanks goes to the workmen who braved some of the worst weather the Borders could throw at them, including bizzards, crippling frosts and thunder storms to make the castle wind and water tight.
And guys, never give up on your dreams. I set out long ago to save this castle that was falling into ruin, I had nothing to lose, and wasn't going to stop until that place was saved. Seven years later, the castle stands restored.
A Little History
Known under various guises such as Fatlips Castle, Minto Castle, Mantoncrake Castle, Catslick Castle, the Tower was once a Turnbull Clan Stronghold, before it came to belong to the current owners, descendants of the Elliot family. The Turnbulls and Elliots are thriving Clans to this day.
The crags themselves have been in use for many years - evidence is recorded of an older Fort nearby to the existing tower possibly from the Bronze Age. Fatlips has been called an icon of the Borders, resting on its rocky perch watching and protecting the valley below. It is a shame it cannot protect itself from the vandalism it has suffered over the years. I know so many more people love the place from the welcome emails and comments you have left over the years this site has been up and running.
Renovated by Robert Lorimer in the 1890's the Tower became a Shooting Lodge and Gallery. The crags themselves featured walks and pathways for people to explore and have picnics, which were a popular past-time in the Victorian era. The pathways are now overgrown but they do take you on an adventurous exploration round the hillside.
Thanks goes to John Rogerson, of Ancrum, for sharing with me an image of the crest and panelling of the ceiling of the main hall, thought to be the only image of it in existence. The ceiling of the main hall is now completely gone, so this image is of great importance, and will be online for your perusal shortly! John remembers going up there in the 1970's and seeing the cannon guns outside the castle and the yett in place in the doorway.
John also tells of a shed on the far side of the hill that housed horse-sleighs that possibly originated from Canada, which is where the late Lord Minto's first wife was from. One of these was a fine example of a trap made by Crole and Crole of Canada, with its only injury being one rotted shaft from a hole in the roof. The shed also housed a Native American canoe which had fallen into disrepair due to a leak in the roof and water running onto it.
He reminded me that there used to be a wooden chalet on the left side of the hill, which was used by the late Lord Minto's wife and many members of the public as a place for picnics. I believe it burned down, and no trace of it now exists.
People love the castle for so many reasons. The current structure may not wholly originate from the Reiving time period, but this castle captures people’s imaginations. The view is relatively unspoilt, the walk through the woods closes off the modern world as the castle becomes a visible presence through the twists and turns of the path through the trees.
This castle casts its magical spell on each and every visitor, I implore you to visit the tower and feel a little of its magic leave with you.
I would like to extend a huge WELL DONE to all the members of the Turnbull Clan who made the climb to the top of the hill on Thursday 14th June 2007 (photo below). It was great to meet you all and an honour to be included!
FATLIPS IS ON FACEBOOK!! here
Virtual Tour of Fatlips Castle should be here, many thanks to the contributor