Duns Castle from an etching 1790
IDuns Castle c. 1820'
The original Castle of Duns would appear to have been built by Randolph Earl of Moray in 1320 following a grant of the lands of Duns by his uncle Robert the Bruce. Moray had fought alongside Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn and was married to Isabel daughter of John Stewart of Bonkyl.
Randolph died in 1332 and the Castle would appear to have passed into the hands of Patrick, Earl of Dunbar. However following the Battle of Halidon Hill the following year the manors of Duns and Chirnside were granted by King Edward 11 of England to Thomas de Bradestan.
Thereafter following a succession of changes of ownership they eventually came into the hands of James Cockburn of Langton.
In 1698 the lands of Duns and Crumstane were sold to William Hay of Drummelzier son of the Earl of Tweeddale in Peeblesshire for the sum of £228,034.14.3d. Scots or £19,002 17.10d sterling and have subsequently remained within the ownership of the family.
William Hay's wife was of the Seton family, a direct descendant of Mary Seton, one of Mary Queen of Scots' "Four Marys" and there are many connections with this family within the Castle.
At this time the Castle would probably be little more than the original mediaeval keep. Tradition has it that when he was ill William Hay's wife had a fairly extensive extension built, what is now the west wing of the Castle. On enquiring as to the cause of the noise from the building work his wife apparently replied that it was nothing more than "a wee bit hen-hoose". This part of the Castle is to this day know n as "the hen house"
Sir William's successor, his son Alexander was responsible for the building of the Pavilion Gateway and his son Robert built the north semi circular tower and also the stable and offices.
Between 1816 and 1822 Alexander's son Robert commander of the local yeomanry and known as Colonel Hay carried out substantial works resulting in the form surviving today. The Architect was James Gillespie Graham. The builder was William Waddell and the stone was quarried at Putton Mill. It is claimed that the gargoyle figures, the work of John Anderson, Duns were based on Duns inhabitants of the time.
A history of the family entitled 'The Family of Hay of Duns Castle' by Francis S Hay is held in the Local History Room in Duns Library.
The Castle remains a private residence. It is now a wedding venue catering for corporate events and private stays and parties. It has also been used as a film location and has featured in such films as 'Mrs. Brown' starring Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly as well as the T.V. production 'Charles and Diana'. For further details click here