5.2.  Frasers of Fruid.

The castle of Fruid was built by Oliver Fraser during the reign of King Malcolm IV (1153-1165).(1)   It was sited close to Strawberry Hill(9) - hill on right of image - photograph taken looking East.   Shortly after this Oliver Fraser built another castle - Oliver Castle at the entrance to the Fruid valley - this one overlooked the ford on the River Tweed.  More about the Frasers of Oliver on page 5 Frasers of Oliver.   Both castles became important seats of of Clan Fraser.(4)   One wonders why both castles  were built adjacent to existing chapel sites - Fruid near the Fruid Chapel and Oliver overlooking the Chapel Knowe site in Tweedsmuir?  The Fruid Castle site was at the head of the Fruid valley at a spot that Sir Walter Scott would have described as a well sequestered dell and is located on the northern boundary of the Talla-Hart Fells Wild Land Area.(6) - see map 02.  It was also sited close to a chapel dedicated to St. Cuthbert with associated burial ground.  Nearby was the Carterhope sheep farm positioned beside the well worn ancient track from the south through the Fruid valley to the River Tweed ford - this was part of a Pilgrim's Way.  More about this track and the Fruid chapel see page 11. Pilgrims Way, Chapels, and the Spread of Christianity.   Further information on the location of the Fruid Chapel site and associated burial ground on page 11.1. Fruid Chapel and Burial Ground


By the eighteenth century there were only vestiges of the castle(5).   The precise location of the chapel and burial ground site is unclear, however the location of the Fruid Castle site is much more definite.  A survey of the area in 1821 by William Blackadder(7) shows the "castle in ruins" straddling the Fernhope Burn immediately east of the Fruid farm house, see image above.   The close proximity of the Fruid farm building to the castle site does suggest that perhaps stones from the castle were used in the construction of the farm building?  The image also shows Carterhope farm beside the trackway shown as road to Moffat.

The Rev. W.S. Crockett, the Minister of Tweedsmuir from 1894 until 1945, quoted by George Burnett(8) noted the following about the site of Fraser Castle "can be easily traced behind the present day farm steading overshadowed by a cluster of gallant beeches, where in my time, herons reared their young. A winsome spot it is, with the mighty Hartfell closing its southern flank, and the Fern Hope burn, one of the sweetest hill streams in Upper Tweeddale, purling past the farmhouse door." 

The Blackadder survey and the comments by the Rev. W. S. Crockett would appear to be the only references to the actual site of Fruid Castle.  The above map shows the Fernhope burn that is also mentioned by the Rev. Crockett.   This is a vital source of information as the Fernhope burn is tilll there flowing into the reservoir thus giving an approximate location of the castle ruins.  

Certainly by c1960 there could not have been even a vestige of the site as it was regrettably not included in the RCAHMS survey of the area.   However, this omission has been rectified by Historic Environment Scotland as it is now on their online archive Canmore as ID 49742 and also on ID 709976.   The location shown on the map on Canmore is  NT 1065 1803.   This is further south than one would have thought bearing in mind the location of the Fernhope burn and also the site of the Fruid Farm prior to flooding.   The OS 1945-1947 one inch map shows the farm at 1080 1830.  For more about the Fruid castle site see page 5.2. 1. Castle Fruid - Site of.

It is also unfortunate that at this time that it would appear that Clan Fraser - were unaware of the significance of this site to the very early history of the family.  Otherwise, I am sure that they would have done something about it before the castle site was flooded by the construction of the Fruid reservoir in the 1960s.   Apart from the castle the chapel/burial ground was flooded - the burial ground must have included many Frasers.  Also the farm houses of the two farms were flooded.  New farm houses were built above the water line to replace those flooded and it is those that be seen on the image at head of page.   The trackway through the Fruid valley was a Pilgrim's Way that Merlin, St Kentigern (Mungo) and many others must have walked.- see page 11 Pilgrim's Way.  This track, of course, was also flooded for the length of the valley.  The construction of the associated aquaduct connecting the Fruid Reservoir to the Talla reservoir via Menzion also did damage including the raising of the road to Fruid by several feet where it passed through the Tweedsmuir Standing Stones and also the destruction of the Menzion Standing Stones - see sections 3.1. and 3.2. on page 3 Standing Stones.  One would have hoped that we had learnt something regarding the destruction of heritage sites by actions such as the 1960s construction of the reservoir and associated works - have we - NO.  At least the Scottish government has not learnt as in Dec/2017 they over-ruled objections by the Scottish Borders Councils and locals and have given consent for a wind farm in the Fruid area!

The next time when there are very low water levels in the Fruid reservoir it is hoped that an investigation into the Fraser castle site can be made.   This will hopefully reveal that there are some stones of the castle remaining - although this does seem unlikely - that can, with the permission and support of the Frasers, be recovered.   These remnants being made into a small monument nearby - similar to that of the  Hawkshaw castle Porteous Clan site.   Even without the stones I feel that a small monument with interpretation board, that could also include information on the Fruid Chapel and burial ground, is called for.  Thanks to the Rev. Crockett we know that the castle site was adjacent to a stand of beech trees.  The sawn off stumps of these trees should become visible as the water level drops and hopefully they can be identified as being beech.    It should be noted that the sawn off stumps of the trees adjacent to the Hawkshaw farm were found to be well preserved when they appeared at low water level in 2004 - see image on page 6 Hawkshaw.   More about the site of the castle on page 5.2.1 Fruid Castle - Site of.

It would appear that the Frasers of Fruid were considered as part of Oliver and hence not documented separately until 1426.  

In 1306 when Oliver Fraser III, The Patriot, was killed his lands were inherited by his two daughter heiress' Joan and Mary.  See page 5. Frasers of Oliver.   This meant that when Joan and Mary married their respective husbands, Patrick Fleming and Gilbert Hay, each gained half of the Fraser lands.   The actual legal division of the lands would appear to have been unclear particularly the position regarding the castle and lands of Fruid.  Both the Flemings and Hays laid claims to these lands.(1)

In 1426 over a hundred years after the death of Simon Fraser III a name emerges from the mists of the Fruid valley - Thomas Fraser of Fruid - a descendant of the Frasers of Oliver.   He would have appeared to have also owned lands in the Barony of Drumelzier that he "resigned and renounced" to the superior, Walter Tweedie of Drumelzier in 1426.  Thomas is again mentioned in the records in 1470 and 1476.   A William Fraser, a son or nephew of Thomas is mentioned in 1490.   William is mentioned again when he marries Agnes Johnston on 28-07-1500.   Katherine Fraser the heiress of Fruid now comes on the scheme.   She was either a grand daughter or neice of William and Agnes.(1)

Katherine being an heiress was very desirable and John Lord Fleming was the first to react and had Katherine affianced to his son Malcolm.   The Hays objected  to this but a more strenuous objector was John Tweedie of Drumelzier, who intended Katherine to marry his nephew James.   The result was the assassination of Lord Fleming by the Tweedies on 01-11-1524 and the imprisonment of his son Malcolm in Drumelzier Castle leaving the coast clear for Katherine to marry James Tweedie in 1525.(1)  The Tweedies of Drumelzier had a certain reputation - Abram Rees(2) in 1819 commented that "The Tweedies the Lords of Drumelzier, who domineered here during several ages of anarchy"

The Flemings and the Hays objected to the marriage as they did not want the Tweedies of Drumelzier to get a further foothold in the desirable area at the south end of Upper Tweeddale.  The Tweedies had already taken possession of Oliver Castle from the Hays and were tenenting many farms in the area.  

Katherine and James had four sons(3) - James, Patrick, William and John Tweedie.  However, there are Clan Fraser Cadet lines descended from previous generations of Frasers of Fruid as indicated on the above family tree.   Hence Fruid Castle was a seat of cadet lines of Fraser.(4)

The heraldry of the Frasers of Fruid is unknown.   However, the Cadet lines descended from Fruid have three silver fraises on a blue field in some form as do the Cheifly and Cadet lines descended from the Frasers of Oliver.

Below is the representation of the arms of Fraser of Phopachy from Sir James Balfour Pauls's Scottish Ordinary 1672.   These Frasers are descended from the Frasers of Fruid. (4)   Other Fraser cadet line descended from the Frasers of Fruid are Daltullich, Dunballoch, Fanellan, Kinfillie, Munlochy, Newton and Tain.(4)

The Frasers and Tweedies are recorded as both owning lands in Drumelzier at the same time.  However I think that the marriage of Katherine Fraser and James Tweedie in 1525 is the only formal connection between the two families that would justify the customary joint armorial?

There is an English armorial for the Tweedies of Essex that shows both the Tweedie and Fraser arms.   This is dated 1558.   It is said that the Essex branch of the Tweedie family came "owt of Scotland frome a howse called Dromelzane."  His arms were quarterly 1st & 4th Argent a saltire engrailed Gules a Chief Azure (for Twedye); 2nd & 3rd Azure a Cross pattee ermine between three cinquefoiks Or, (for Fraser).

I had thought that this was a one off but it cropped up again on brasses in the Church of Stock Harvard-cum-Ramsden Bellhouse Essex(3).  It can be seen that the first quadrant is for Tweedie and the second for Fraser. 

  The three cinquefoils are immediately recognisable as Fraser but what does the Cross pattee ermine signify?   It is certainly not a Scottish blazon hence it is presumably an English blazon for the Frasers of Fruid?  The cross ermine perhaps alluding to the St Cuthbert's Chapel that was adjacent to the Castle of the Frasers of Fruid.






References .

1)  Buchan, J. W, and Paton, Rev H; History of Peeblesshire, Jackson, Wylie & Co, Glasgow, 1927. Vol III, p354 and p404.

2) Rees, Abraham; The Cyclopedia of Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, Longmans, London, 1819.  Vol XXVI, Peebles.

3) Tweedie, Michael Forbes; The History of the Tweedie or Tweedy Family, Griffiths & Sons, London, 1908. for sons of Catherine Fraser p157, for Essex Heraldry p136-137.

4)  Fraser, Flora, Marjory; Clan Fraser:Celebrating over 800 years as a family in Scotland, Scottish Cultural Press, Dalkeith, 2009. p2 and p36.

5)  Muchet, Thomas, Rev; The 1791-1799 Statistical Account for Scotland, EB Publishing, Edinburgh, 1979. pp991-914.

6)  Scottish National Heritage;

7)  Historic Environment Scotland; Plans of the Estates of Tweedsmuir and Meggat, surveyed 1821 by Wm. Blackadder,

8)  Burnett, George; Companion to Tweed, Methuen, London, 1938. p15.

9)  Grant, Will; Tweeddale, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1948. p86

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