Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 44696 39914
344696, 639914

The wood and parkland policies of Bowland make an outstanding scenic contribution to the local upland valley landscape. Surviving estate plans and other valuable documentary evidence from the 18th and 19th century provide significant historical value and demonstrate the enduring structural integrity of the landscape in its present form.

Type of Site

The form of the design, comprising a main house, parkland and woodlands, is primarily 18th century with early 19th century modification. The woodlands present one of the most scenically important components of the design. Some parkland areas remain and the site is notable for its recently restored walled garden and striking estate architecture, with the principal buildings by James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855).

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1750s-1780s, 1811-31

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

While no individual designer is known, 19th-century descriptions nevertheless praise the view of the house, “thriving plantations”, and “beautiful grounds” (The Scottish Tourist 1836: 321; Rutherford 1849; 12)


Level of interest

Detailed estate maps spanning the late 18th and earlier 19th-centuries provide an excellent source of evidence for the sequential development of the designed landscape and demonstrate the enduring physical structure of the design into the present day. Estate papers and account books of the early 19th century provide further valuable documentary evidence.


Level of interest

The variety of conifer specimens around the house, and the veteran beech avenue along the course of the old drive provide minor horticultural interest.


Level of interest

Significant interest is provided by the recognised architectural merit of the house, north gate and lodge together with other features such as the estate buildings at Dryburn.


Level of interest

At present, the archaeological value of the landscape resides only in the potential for future investigations to reveal further information about the character of the landscape over time.


Level of interest

Prominent architectural features, extensive woodlands and perimeter planting add colour and interest within the upland valley landscape. The tree canopy, in particular, forms a major contrast to the surrounding, treeless hills and plateaux of the Moorfoot hills.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The mixed plantations are likely to provide a valuable habitat for birds and a variety of woodland flora. At the eastern boundary of the designed landscape, the Gala Water, a tributary of the Tweed, is also recognised as a Special Area of Conservation.

Location and Setting

Bowland House and its policies are set within the upland valley landscape of the Gala Water, approximately halfway between Stow and Galashiels. The parks and woodlands extend up the south-facing slope of the narrow Crosslee Burn tributary valley and are mostly enclosed by the rolling plateaux of the Moorfoot Hills. Scenically, they form a striking contrast with the surrounding heather and unimproved grassland of the uplands. Encompassing some 119ha (294ac), the perimeter of the designed landscape is defined by an almost continuous strip of woodland mostly established during the second half of the 18th century (as depicted on historical estate plans and maps). The Gala Water and Crosslee Burn flow along the eastern and southern boundaries. The assorted buildings of Crosslee farm stand at the south-east corner, while the minor road from Bow Bridge to Blackhaugh extends along much of the northern boundary.

Site History

The historical development of the landscape is best traced via a series of estate plans surveyed and drawn up from the later 18th century to the early 19th century. Despite several changes in ownership, this was the period when the essential structure of the present design was established. The estate plans, along with other sources of evidence, show the sequential development of the designed landscape at Bowland.

Prior to this era, there are few records of the nature of the landscape. Some accounts suggest its possible use as a hunting seat by the Bishop of St Andrews and, later, in the 17th century, its ownership by the Riddell family (Hardy 1890: 59). Documentary evidence shows the estate subsequently belonging to the well-known Border landowners, the Rutherfords, until its sale in 1752 to the Pringle family. While John Rutherford went on to seek his fortune abroad in North Carolina and named his slave-run coastal plantation 'Bowland' after his former home, the Pringles set about developing many of the key landscape features that can be identified today (NAS GD82/500).

The earliest of the detailed estate plans, which may have been prepared around the time of James Pringle's death in 1778, provides an excellent source of evidence for the structure of the landscape (NAS RHP94182-3). It shows a central house, gardens and a few estate buildings surrounded by the enclosed parks, woodlands, and perimeter woodland strip that remain so distinctive in today's landscape. A rather sad letter written by Maria Pringle after her fathers death in 1778 describes how they used to walk through the gardens admiring their trees and shrubs and perhaps hints at the interest in horticulture and garden fashion that led to this well-developed design (NAS GD113/5/64). Certainly, the estate map depicts a number of garden areas around the house and fashionable landscape features such as cross-axial vistas through the southern-most Knowes Dean Plantation.

The following century brought further changes of ownership. Mark Watt, an Edinburgh tobacconist, purchased Bowland in 1787 and remained there for just over 20 years before selling the estate c.1809 to General Alexander Walker, a distinguished explorer, writer and military figure. Although Walker's subsequent retirement at Bowland was interrupted by a promotion and five year Governorship on the island of St Helena in the 1820s, he nonetheless instigated a number of important and ambitious changes to the estate. Projects included the demolition of most of the pre-existing house, the construction of a new house, north gate, lodge, and court of offices, the creation of a new entrance drive and the relocation of the walled garden to its present site along with more general maintenance and planting work around the estate. Pencil sketches of prospective alterations on an 1807 estate map, surviving receipts, estimates and correspondence, and a complete set of meticulous farm account books document something of the planning, expense and labour involved in the improvement projects (NLS MSS.13601-14195). In 1827, another water-coloured estate map was drawn up; a further excellent source of cartographic information for the development of the designed landscape during this period (NAS RHP12656).

Subsequent owners at Bowland did not embark on any similarly major landscape design work. Walker's son, who inherited in 1831, resided mainly in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, succeeding generations of the Ramsay family, who first acquired the estate in the later 19th century, focused their efforts and expenditure on the house. By this time, the original woods and specimen plantings of the preceding century had reached an attractive maturity and were praised in tourist guides of the era and by visiting members of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club (Hardy 1890).

During the Second World War, Bowland became a refuge for evacuated nursery children from Edinburgh. By the 1980s, when some elements of the estate had been long in decline, Bowland was up for sale again. Leon Litchfield presently owns the designed landscape, now contained within a much larger agricultural estate. Despite the loss of many parkland trees during the 20th century, much of the 18th to 19th-century structure continues to endure. Most recently, a renovation project in the walled garden has created a functioning, well-stocked and colourful garden.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Bowland House is a castellated Tudor-Gothic mansion built c.1813-15 to designs by James Gillespie Graham. The main elevations are of dark whinstone, cut into brick-sized blocks with sandstone dressings. In 1890, Neo-Tudor additions were made, while the surviving portion of an earlier house was removed. Further extensions, including a 3-storey gable, were completed in 1926. Access to the estate is via the North gate and lodge, built from coursed whinstone in 1820 also to a castellated Tudor design. The remains of Bowland doocot stand immediately to the west of the house. The main structural elements of the Walled Garden, restored and partially rebuilt in the first decade of the 21st century, comprise three sides of a rubble-built enclosure wall and an exterior potting range to the north. Early 19th century estate buildings arranged around a cobbled yard stand just to the north. In Burial Ground Wood, a 3-metre high, mortared stone commemorative monument in the form of a pyramid was erected in 1912 to commemorate the burial place of two generations of Rutherfords, who had owned Bowland up until the 1750s. From the old turnpike road to Edinburgh, cylindrical stone gate-piers topped with biconic stone finials flank the entrance to the old drive. In the north-east corner of the designed landscape, the cluster of structures at Dryburn form a cohesive group of little-altered, early 19th century estate mill buildings comprising house, former threshing mill, half-piended sawmill building and dam bridge.

Drives & Approaches

The main drive in use today was established by the early 1820s. Entering via the substantial north gate at Crosslee, it makes a circuitous approach, curving through fields, parkland and a woodland strip before ascending towards the house in the centre of the designed landscape. The old drive, used up until the early 19th century, and which followed a more direct route, is still readily discernible in the present landscape. Lined by impressive veteran beech trees, the grass-covered track enters a short distance north of the north gate through a surviving set of stone gatepiers. It heads south-eastwards before converging with the present drive just before its last, near-90 degree turn towards Bowland House.


Parkland extends downslope to the south and south-east of the house. There are now relatively few specimen hardwoods compared to the landscape of the 19th and early 20th century. During their visit in 1887, the members of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club observed and admired veteran oaks, beech, planes, elms and Silver firs (Hardy 1890: 60). Today, the remaining mature trees stand in small parks enclosed by mixed woodland strips. This ensures that views to and from the house retain an attractive mosaic character of green sloping parkland and trees.


The woodlands of Bowland form the most visually dominant landscape component within the designed landscape. Structurally, they are composed of an almost continuous perimeter strip around the boundary, two large conifer plantations partly fringed by deciduous trees, a number of smaller plantations around the house, and narrow strips of mature trees that follow field and park divisions and the course of the old and new drives. In general, the mixture of species within these woods, such as the beech, oak and Scots pine along the present drive, affords a richness of texture and colour that can be appreciated from vantage points throughout the local landscape of the Gala Water. Apart from the more recent, 20th-century conifer plantations at Mid Plantation and Burial Ground Wood, nearly all of the present woodland plantations follow a design established, or at least planned, by the end of the 18th century (NAS RHP 94183; NAS RHP 12649).

The Gardens

A semi-circular area of lawn, partly fringed by trees and shrubs but with open views towards the southern parklands, slopes down from the front of the house. This area has undergone significant modification over the last two centuries. The late 18th-century estate map depicts square, planted compartments on either side of the lawn; an arrangement that may have developed from a more formal, symmetrical design. Early OS map editions and a photograph c.1920, meanwhile, reveal the continuation of a basically rectangular shape divided by hedges, fencing and a low terrace wall, and punctuated by shrubs and conifers. Today, within the smaller and more simple garden space where views of the wider landscape prevail, a tall conifer specimen, well over a century old, and faint undulations in the neat grass of the lawn, bear physical witness to the former garden designs. Behind the house, where paths lead up into the woodland, rhododendron bushes and further conifer specimens are a sign of some woodland garden design work in the 19th century.

Walled Gardens

A project of restoration from 2002 to 2008 has created an attractive garden within the northern two-thirds of the original walled area. The site was first established c.1812 when several weeks of “carting earth from the old garden to the new one” were carefully logged into that year's account book (NLS: MSS.13601-14195). The first edition OS map shows a traditional layout of intersecting paths that divided the sloping ground into quadrants (1853, OS 25”). The southern-most area of the walled garden, originally enclosed by a curving south wall, is no longer in use and is now grassed over. However, since the renovation project, the northern area now features well-stocked flower and vegetable beds, four intersecting lawn walks and a restored early 20th century greenhouse along the north wall. Vines, figs, greengages and nectarines grow within the shelter of this greenhouse while the fruit trees on the restored rubble walls of the garden include a range of historic Scottish apples and espalier forms.



Maps, Plans and Archives

1747-55 General Roy's Military Survey 1747-55

c.1750 Plan of lands of Bowland, Crosslee and Catha, showing position of tollbar, NAS RHP94679

1771 Andrew Armstrong and Mostyn Armstrong, 'Map of the County of Berwick'

1773 John Ainslie, 'Map of Selkirkshire or Ettrick Forest'

1776 George Taylor and Andrew Skinner, 'Survey and maps of the roads of North Britain or Scotland, 1776'

n.d. (late 18th century) Plans or copy plans of estate of Bowland, showing marches with adjacent properties, NAS RHP94182-3

1807 Plan of the estate of Bowland, the property of Mark Watt (vignette of huntsman), NAS RHP12649

1824 John Thomson, 'Selkirk-Shire'

1827 Plan of the lands of Bowland. Part of the Property of Gen.Walker, NAS RHP12656

1843 William Crawford and William Brooke, 'Map embracing extensive portions of the Counties of Roxburgh, Berwick, Selkirk & Midlothian and Part of Northumberland. Minutely & accurately surveyed... by Crawford and Brooke'

1853 survey Edinburghshire, 1st edition OS 1:2500 (25”) and OS 1:10560 (6”), published 1854

1892 survey Edinburghshire, 2nd edition OS 1:2500 (25”) and OS 1:10560 (6”), published 1895

NLS MSS.13601-14195 Walker of Bowland papers

NAS GD113/5/64 Letters from Maria Pringle and others of the Pringle family at Bowland to Jane Innes at Edinburgh and Jedburgh

NAS GD113/4/167 Stow estate correspondence addressed to William Hall, including letters from Gilbert Innes of Stow, and many of William Hall's relations (letters 263 and 359)

NAS GD82/500 Memorandum (by W. G. Rutherfurd) of visit to Wilmington, North Carolina, and search for information on Rutherfurd and Shaw families settled there in 18th cent. Including descriptions of sites of plantations belonging to John Rutherfurd (d.1782) at Bowland

RCAHMS: National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS) and Photographic and manuscript collection


Printed Sources

Cruft, K, Fawcett, R, and Dunbar, J 2006 Borders New Haven, Conn. and London: Yale University Press

Hardy, J 1890, Report of Meetings of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club for the year 1887, History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club 12, 13-80

Historic Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers, The Lists of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest.

Rutherfurd, J 1849, Rutherfurd's Border Hand-book, being a Guide to the Remarkable Places, Picturesque Scenery, and Antiquities of the Border, Kelso

Scottish tourist 1836, The Scottish Tourist, and Itinerary, being a Guide to the Scenery and Antiquities of Scotland and the Western Isles, Edinburgh: Stirling, Kenney & Co.

Internet Sources

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online [accessed 31 December 2008]

SiteLink: Scottish Natural Heritage, Sites designated for their natural heritage value, [accessed 18 June 2009]

Note of Abbreviations used in references

NLS: National Library of Scotland

NAS: National Archives of Scotland

RCAHMS: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

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Printed: 08/08/2022 04:23