Scheduled Monument

Mervinslaw TowerSM1717

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: bastle; pele house, peel tower; settlement, including deserted and depopulated and townships
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 67206 11745
367206, 611745


The monument consists of a bastle, two storeys and a garret in height, standing on the S slope of Mervin's Law. To the south of the bastle are the remains of associated buildings situated in a depression scooped out of the hillside. The remains represent a small semi-fortified estate centre dating from the mid-to-late 16th century. The monument was first scheduled in 1948. On this occasion an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The bastle is intact apart from the loss of its roof. Its masonry is roughly coursed rubble with distinctive pinnings, set in clay, and the numerous quarry-pits that are to be seen close to the building suggest that the material was obtained locally.

It measures 7.77m from NW to SE by 6.5m transversely over walls about 1.2m in thickness, the wall-heads being about 5.5m high. As with many bastles, the main axis of the building runs parallel with the slope, with the ground floor door situated in the downslope gable. Each storey contains a single unvaulted apartment. The ground floor entrance is in the SE; the first floor must have been reached via an external ladder or forestair abutting the SW wall, in which there is an entrance. The garret, which must have been reached by an inside ladder, has one small window facing SE. None of the floors has a fireplace, but at first floor level, a line of joist pockets in the NE wall, slightly above floor level, may represent the remnants of a hearth.

The hillside below the SE gable has been scooped out to varying depths. This excavation, which is roughly D-shaped, seems to have been bounded on its lower and straight side by a wall, extends over an area measuring some 45m from NW to SE by 41m transversely. Against this wall, and roughly in line with the bastle, there are the foundations of an oblong building which measure about 7.3m from NW to SE by 4m transversely within walls about 0.9m thick and gables about 1.2m thick. Some 9m to the NE there are the remains of a second building, and beyond this a third building occupies the E corner of the enclosure.

The area to be scheduled includes the bastle, the associated buildings and an area in which associated remains can be expected. The area is quadrangular in shape, and has maximum dimensions of 100m NE-SW and 90m transversely as marked in red on the attached map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a rare example of an extremely well preserved bastle, with an associated settlement. The bastle at Mervinslaw is by far the best preserved of several in the immediate locality. It therefore has the great potential to contribute to an understanding of the construction techniques, defences, domestic life and function of such monuments, which were once common throughout the borders of Scotland.



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NT 61 SE 18.


RCAHMS (1956) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland. An inventory of the ancient and historical monuments of Roxburghshire, 2v, Edinburgh, 421-2, no. 932.

About Scheduled Monuments

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.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 03/10/2023 02:53