Hume Castle

Visiting Hume Castle

Hume Castle is an 18th-century folly built over the ruins of a late medieval castle. The castle sits on a natural outcropping in the village of Hume, overlooking majestic views of the surrounding landscape. Hume Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, open throughout the year and is free to visit.


A free car park is located by the entrance, not far from the castle ruins. The park can accommodate four cars.


Hume Castle is free to visit.


The castle is open year-round. You can visit at any reasonable time during daylight hours.

Location & Access 

Off the B6364, about 3 miles (4.82 km) south of Greenlaw

Hume, Kelso, Borders, Scotland, TD5 7TR, UK

The folly sits on a hill in Hume, between the towns of Greenlaw and Kelso, off the B6364. You can easily access the castle by stairs from the southwest side. The other sides of the castle have steep slopes without stairs.    

Know Before You Go

  • Dogs on leads are welcome.
  • Public toilets, restaurants, and shops are located in Kelso town centre, an 11-minute drive from the castle.
  • There are many free-roaming sheep, so watch out for animal droppings on the stairs and in the castle ruins.

Places To Stay Nearby

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Number 1 Hotel and Wine Lounge

 Located in Wooler, England, 19.3 miles from Hume. Starting price is £40.00


The Blue Bell Inn

This B&B is located in the Scottish village of Cornhill-on-Tweed, about 13 miles away from Hume Castle. Prices start at £45.00


The Coach House

Another B&B in Cornhill-on-Tweed. Prices start at £50.00


History of Hume Castle

The history of Hume Castle dates back sometime between the late 12th and early 13th-century when it was first built. The original castle was captured and recaptured several times during the Anglo-Scottish wars and reduced to ruins in 1651. 


1214 (Lands of Hume Established)

The lands of Hume (or Home) were first given to Ada, the daughter of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, as a dowry when she wed her first husband in 1214.

c. 1225 (First Stone Fortification)

Ada would soon become a widow in 1217 and again in 1225. She then married her third husband, who was also her cousin William, son of Sir Patrick of Greenlaw, who is believed to have built the first stone fortification on the site. Additionally, William also took the name of the land for his surname, and descendants of the Hume clan can be traced back to him.

After William, the castle served as the seat for successive Lords Hume, who were wardens of the Eastern Marches, and tasked with guarding the Scottish side of the border, which was less than five miles away. 

1460 (Base for King James II)

King James II of Scotland and his queen Mary of Guelders stayed at the castle while on his way to Roxburgh Castle, which the English had besieged. The king would later die during the same siege when one of his canons exploded beside him.


Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, captured the castle. However, George, the fourth Lord Home, recaptured the castle the following year, and he also used it to store guns taken from the English.


Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed at the castle on her way to exile in England. 


Following the fifth Lord Home's support for Mary Queen of Scots, Hume Castle was again captured and burnt by the Earl of Sussex.

1651 (Reduced to Ruins)

Under orders from Oliver Cromwell, Colonels George Fenwick and Edmund Syler reduced the castle to ruins by bombardment at close range.


Government forces occupied the destroyed castle to counter the Jacobites led by Charles Edward Stuart the Bonnie Prince Charles. 


The castle was returned to the Hume family after the Jacobites were defeated at the Battle of Culloden. 

1789 (Rebuilt Castle Walls)

Sir Hugh Hume, the third Earl of Marchmont, restored the castle as a folly, building the present castle walls from the ruins of the old walls. Some sections of the original 13th-century wall are still visible in parts.

1804 (The Great Alarm)

Again, Hume Castle was used as a warning beacon during the Napoleonic wars. 

On 31 January, a sergeant lit the beacon at Hume castle after mistaking charcoal burners' fires from the nearby Dirrington Great law as a warning. His actions prompted the lighting of all other border beacons and the mobilisation of a force of 3,000 men. The event became known as "The Great Alarm."


The state acquired the castle and surrounding lands and placed it in the control of the Department of Agriculture.


The Berwickshire Civic Society administered funds provided by the Scottish office for the restoration of the castle walls


The castle was opened to the public.


The castle again returned to the Humes after approximately 100 years, when it was acquired by the Hume Castle Preservation Trust, an organisation with ties to The Clan Home Association.

Hume Castle Occupants

Although Hume castle originally belonged to the Hume family, ownership of the fortress frequently alternated between the Scots and English.

13th-Century Occupants

  • Sometime after 1225: Ada, and her husband William de Courtney, who built the first fortifications

15th-Century Occupants

  • 1460: King James II of Scotland and his wife, Mary of Guelders
  • 1473: Alexander Home, first Lord Home
  • 1492: Alexander Home, second Lord Home

16th-Century Occupants

  • 1516: Antoine d'Acres - Deputy Governor of the district and Warden of the Marches
  • 1547: George Home, fourth Lord Home
  • 1547: Edward Seymour - Duke of Somerset
  • 1548: Alexander Home, fifth Lord Home
  • 1567: Mary, Queen of Scots

17th-Century Occupants

  •  1650: Colonel John Cockburn - Governor of Hume castle

    Images of Hume Castle

    Hume Castle Hume Castle
    Hume Castle Hume Castle

    Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

    Hume Castle Facts

    • The name of the castle and the family that held it is occasionally spelt as "Home." However, it's always pronounced as 'Hume," notwithstanding the spelling.

    • Sometime in the 19th century, a skeleton with a chain around its waist was found in the medieval well. Many speculated it was the skeleton of King James VI, as legend has it that Alexander, the third Lord Home, had taken and hidden James VI's body in a cave adjoining the well at Hume castle after the king was killed at the battle of Flodden. However, the skeleton disappeared shortly, so the theory was never confirmed.

    Hume Castle Q & A

    What Type of Castle Was Hume Castle?

    Hume Castle was the castle of enceinte, or main fortification, for the Hume family. 

    When Was Hume Castle First Built?

    Hume Castle would have been built after 1225, sometime between the late 12 century and early 13 century. The castle was built by William of Home, Ada's third husband, whom she married after 1225. 

    How Big Was Hume Castle?

    Hume Castle is approximately 40-meter (0.02-mile) wide by 45-meter (0.03-mile) long and sits on a prominent rocky outcrop. At the centre of the structure is an 8-meter (0.005-mile) long remnant of a medieval wall from the original castle. There are also traces of other platforms, and there's a well with square masonry lining, believed to be of medieval origins.

    The current structure was built on the earlier castle walls that enclose a much smaller area than the old castle did. So it's safe to assume that the original castle was nearly twice as large as the present structure.

    What Was Hume Castle Used For?

    Hume Castle was the residence of the Lords Hume and as a beacon to warn of invasion from the English during the Anglo-Scottish wars. The castle also served as a warning beacon during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century.

    Does Any Part of Hume Castle Still Exist?

    Some masonry remains from the original Hume Castle can be seen within the current structure. The most prominent of these is an 8m long by 3m high and 1.5m thick remnant of a medieval wall, perhaps part of a tower in the original castle.

    Can You Visit Hume Castle?

    The rebuilt Hume Castle is owned and managed by the Hume Castle Preservation Trust and is open to the public free of charge. Visitors can visit the castle all year round. 

    It takes 20 to 30 minutes to see the entire ruins. But as the castle provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside, visitors tend to stay longer. 

    Location of Hume Castle

    Hume Castle is located in the village of Hume, about four miles north of Kelso, just off the B6364 on the way to Greenlaw. The castle is visible from miles away and impossible to miss, as it stands on a hill that dominates the surrounding landscape.

    Other Places To Visit Near Hume Castle

    • Floors Castle and Gardens: a 300-year-old castle and home to the Dukes of Roxburghe
    • Mellerstain House: a stately home and residence of the 14th Earl of Haddington
    • Kelso Abbey: a 12th-century ruined Scottish abbey
    • Greenknowe Tower: a roofless 16th-century tower house
    • Smailholm Tower: a 15th-century tower house with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, which was also the home of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott