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Gilnockie Castle Hollows Tower

Gilnockie Castle and the controversy that surrounds this enigmatic site

Controversy surrounds the earthwork known as Gilnockie, above the Esk near Hollows bridge. Was this the lair of Johnnie Armstrong, the most famous Reiver of them all? Or was it nearby Hollows Tower, is this really Gilnockie and should the tower be called by that name? Opinion remains divided.

It is possible that the earthwork is a medieval promontory fortification that was re-occupied in the 16th century and strengthened with a palisade on the crest of the earthwork to afford security to timber and clay buildings within. Limited excavation work in 1915 produced no evidence for a stone-built tower-house.

The name “Gilnockie” means a small mound by a ravine and the site of the earthworks, high above the ravine of the Esk, certainly conforms to this description. Tradition is strong that there is a link between the site and Johnnie Armstrong, yet there is little real evidence to confirm this. Archaeological examination of the site has been under discussion for some time, no doubt this would throw more light on this enigmatic site.

Location: Dumfriesshire, Canonbie, Hollows.
OS sheet: 85  GR: 386782

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