Hume Castle, Berwickshire – Clan Home
Held by the powerful Home family, a dominant clan from the Scottish borderlands, Hume Castle is a heavily fortified structure that has often housed the Wardens of the Eastern March.
Originally acquired by the Home family in the early 13th century, the lands on which the castle was built would give the family their name – as they changed from their original surname of ‘Greenlaw’. The Homes would subsequently build the first stone structure on the site as they tried to assert their dominance in the area and would eventually rise to prominence over the next 100 years as the castle would be used as a place to stay by the reigning monarch, James II.
Hume would then be modernised during the 1540s as the French and Scottish militaries built ramparts and artillery platforms within the castle. This upgrade was needed due to the castle’s proximity to the English border and the renovation’s impact on the structure’s defence would quickly be tested as an invading English army attacked the building in 1547. Unfortunately for the Home Clan, the castle would be captured by the Duke of Somerset and it was with such ease that the English captured the castle, they would spend a further £700 strengthening its walls until ironically, it would be recaptured by the Scots.
In truth, while the castle was likely a very well defended structure, it would always be difficult for its occupants to avoid capture due to its proximity to England. This would prove to be the case again in 1569 as it was held by the English for three years and would ultimately suffer its final demise in 1651 as the forces of Oliver Cromwell would bombard and destroy the structure as they advanced into Scotland.
After this horrific event, the castle would remain largely abandoned until the end of the 18th century, when it was purchased by the 3rd Lord Marchmont, a member of the Hume family. Marchmont would buy the ruins of the former structure in 1770 and would erect an outer shell – the walls of which can be seen to this day.
The modern castle’s only use in military action would be as a lookout and beacon during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 18th century. Interestingly, despite playing such a minor role, the castle caused a substantial panic known as the ‘great alarm’ when the duty watch sergeant saw a distant fire and mistook it for a beacon warning of an impending French invasion. 3000 men were quickly sent to lead the defence but, upon learning it was a false alarm, they would instead have a dinner party.
After this false alarm, the Hume Castle would become little more than a monument and was sold to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland in 1929. It was partially restored by the Berwickshire Civic Society in 1985 and would eventually fall back into the hands of the Hume clan in 2006 when it was bought by the Hume Castle Preservation Trust.