TWEEDSMUIR PARISH HISTORY.

5.2.1. Fruid Castle - Site of.

Image on right shows the head of Fruid Reservoir looking East.  The sloping hill on right is Strawberry Hill.   The houses shown are those that replaced the Fruid and Carterhope farms that were flooded during the construction of the reservoir in the sixties.   The site of Fruid castle was also flooded at this time.   Carterhope farm was run by the Monks of Melrose in the 13th/15th centuries during the occupation of Fruid Castle by the Frasers - see page 26 Hopecarton and Carterhope the Valleyof the Carts.   The farm was also prominent during the Covenanting era of the 17th century - more about this on page 9. Covenanters in Upper Tweed.

 

By the eighteenth century there were only vestiges of the castle(1).   The precise location of the nearby 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(2) 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 Blackadder survey held by H.E.S. was not digitalised until early 2018 - the Editor of this website paid for this to be done and was hence the first to download it!

The Rev. W.S. Crockett, the Minister of Tweedsmuir from 1894 until 1945, quoted by George Burnett(3) 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 are the only references to the actual site of Fruid Castle that I have found.  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. see Canmore map on left.  This is further south than one would have thought bearing in mind the location of the Fernhope burn and also the recorded site of the Fruid Farm prior to flooding.   The OS 1945-1947 one inch map shows the farm at approximately 1080 1830. - see OS map above.   The map also shows the trig point on the summit of Strawberry Hill - which could be of assistance in locating the site.   It is also unfortunate that at this time that it would appear that Clan Fraser  - both Fraser Clans - were unaware of the significance of this site to the heritage of the clan.  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. 

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 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 below.

References.

1)  Muchet, Thomas, Rev; The 1791-1799 Statistical Account for Scotland, EB Publishing, Edinburgh, 1979. pp911-914.

2) Historic Environment Scotland; Survey of Tweedsmuir and Meggat Estates, Wm. Blackadder, 1821.

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

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