History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The Setons were Hereditary Armour Bearers to the Scottish king, and thus a quite important family. The land here was once owned by the Gordons, who gave their name to the nearby village, but the Seton's aquired the land through marriage in the 15th century. It was later the residence of Walter Pringle, a prominent leader of the Covenanters, and eventually passed to the Dalrymple family before coming under the protective wing of Historic Scotland.
Greenknowe was built with defense in mind; the walls are perforated with numerous ruin-holes, allowing the defenders a clear line of site in any direction. The tower is four storeys high, with a main block and a smaller wing housing a stair from the kitchen on the ground floor to the hall on the first floor. There are three circular angle turrets rising from corbels at roof level.
The yett and gun-ports would not have provided enough defense on their own, but Greenknowe was sited on a hilltop surrounded by marshy ground, and the marsh probably provided a better defense than any wrought iron ever could!
Just inside the doorway is a turnpike stair, leading down to a vaulted kitchen with a large fireplace. The stair also leads up, to the hall, the main living area. From the hall a turret stair is corbelled out from the tower, leading to the upper chambers of both the main block and tower wing. In all respects this layout is typical of L-plan towers throughout Scotland at this period. In the hall fragments of the original wall plaster remain. Other features include ornate pliasters flanking the fireplace, and there are small closets built into the wall beside the kitchen flue. One of these closets may have housed a garderobe.
The tower is open at any reasonable time, but there are no on-site facilities. You can climb to the top of the tower and get very nice views both across the surrounding countryside and down into the interior of the tower. On a dismal day Greenknowe seems bleak and forlorn, yet when the sun shines it seems quite a pleasant place!
About Greenknowe Tower
Address: Gordon, Borders, Scotland
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: ½ m (.8 km) W Gordon, on A6105
Website: Greenknowe Tower
OS: NT639 428
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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