Hume Castle
Hume Castle is the heavily modified remnants of a late 12th or early 13th century " Castle of enceinte". The village of Hume is located between Greenlaw and Kelso, two miles north of the village of Stichill, in Berwickshire, Scotland. (OS ref.- NT704413). It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, recorded as such by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Standing as it does, on an impressive height above its eponymous castleton, it commands fine prospects across the Merse, with views to the English border at Carter Bar. It had historically been used as a beacon to warn of invasion. Its enormous walls were created in the eighteenth century but remnants of the central keep and other features can still be seen.


William, grandson of Waltheof, Earl of Dunbar, himself a descendant of the Earls of Northumbria, acquired the lands of Home in the early 13th century, and took his surname from his estate, a not uncommon practice of the time. It is assumed that he built the first stone fortifications at the site. James II stayed at Home en route to the siege of Roxburgh Castle, the last English garrison left in Scotland following the Wars of Independence. (James was killed by an early Bombard during the siege.)

Home or Hume?
The change of the central vowel of the family name, "Home" to "Hume", is amusingly thought to have occurred during the disastrous Battle of Flodden in 1513. Alexander, 3rd Lord Home led his troops into the fray with his battle cry "A Home! A Home!", apparently many of his force thought that he was calling the retreat, and they did indeed go home.

The Rough Wooing
Before the advent of artillery, Hume castle was considered almost impregnable. However, in 1547 it was captured, during the " Rough Wooing", by the Lord Proctector Somerset. After stout resistance by Lady Home, whose husband, George Home, 4th Lord Home, had been captured at the Battle of Pinkie the day previously, the castle fell and an English garrison installed. After the death of his father, captive in the Tower, Alexander, the young 5th Lord Home recaptured the castle in 1547. The castle was again besieged in 1569 by the Earl of Sussex during his raid into Scotland. The defenders capitulated within twelve hours, in awe of his vastly superior fire power and numbers.

The castle finally succumbed to the forces of Cromwell in 1650 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. James, 3rd Earl of Home was a prominent member of the Kirk Party, and after Cromwell's successful investiture of Edinburgh Castle, he sent one Colonel Fenwick to beset the Earl's Castle with two regiments. Cockburn, the castle's governor engaged in witty repartee with the Roundheads, but refused to deliver the castle. However once the bombardment began, it became clear that there was no option but submission. Fenwick's troops entered the castle, and accepted Cockburn's surrender. Cockburn and his men retreated and Fenwick slighted the fortification.

In the early eighteenth century, Hume and its environs came into the possession of the Earls of Marchmont, wealthier and more influential cadets of the main line of the family. The Castle at this point was level with the ground that it was built upon. At some point before his death in 1794, Hugh Hume-Campbell, 3rd Earl of Marchmont, 3rd Lord Polwarth, restored the castle as a folly, from the waste left from its destruction, on the original foundations of its curtain wall. He adorned the wall tops with enormous crenellations that are more picturesque than practical.

The Great Alarm
In light of its function as a mediƦval early warning system, the castle was used again as a beacon during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1804, on the night of 31st January, a sergeant of the Berwickshire Volunteers in charge of the beacon mistook charcoal burners' fires on nearby Dirrington Great Law for a warning. Lighting the beacon at Hume Castle, he set in train the lighting of all the Borders beacons to the West, and 3,000 volunteers turned out in what became known as 'The Great Alarm'. Again, during the Second World War it functioned as a lookout post, and was also to act as a base for resistance in the event of a German invasion.

The castle is still seen as the spiritual home of the many Homes and Humes in Scotland and abroad. The Castle was bought by the state in 1929, and in 1985 a restoration programme was undertaken by the Berwickshire Civic Society funded by the Scottish Office. It re-opened to the public in 1992. In 2006 The Society handed over the castle to a charitable trust run by the Clan Home Association, under the auspices of Historic Scotland, to maintain its preservation in the future


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Building Activity

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