Hume Castle – Hume, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Hume Castle

Hume, Scotland

From fortification to folly, this hilltop structure has undergone many changes in the last 800 years. 


Sitting on top of a hill above a quaint village below, Hume Castle looks a bit like a cardboard cut out of a castle from a 1950s B-movie. For centuries, this castle served as a major defensive site in between the often-fluctuating border between England and Scotland. Throughout its history, the castle has been burned and destroyed multiple times in attempts to prevent the fortification from falling into enemy hands.

The hill itself stands 750 meters above sea level, providing outstanding views of the surrounding landscape. Built on top of a natural outcropping of rock, Hume Castle took on a rectangular courtyard plan. This was a layout commonly used in the Scottish Highlands but more unusual in other regions of Scotland.

The large walls that currently stand were created more recently, but inside these walls are the remains of the central keep from an earlier castle. By the 18th century, the castle had been completely leveled. At some point before his death in 1794, Hugh Hume-Campbell, the 3rd Earl of Marchmont, had the castle reconstructed as a folly. The folly was constructed from the rubble of the ruins and was constructed upon the original curtain wall.  The walls were topped with large crenellations in a more picturesque rather than practical style.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Hume Castle was used as a beacon, part of a medieval early warning system. On January 31, 1804, one of the sergeants based at the castle mistook a charcoal burner’s fire as a warning. He lit the beacon at Hume Castle setting in motion the warning system all along the border. Over 3,000 volunteers turned out to defend their land in an event that became known as “The Great Alarm.”

This purpose was reinstated when the site was used as a lookout during WWII, as well as an active resistance base in the event of a German invasion. Today, the castle is run by the Clan Home Association.

Know Before You Go

There is a small carpark at the base of the hill, please take a small donation with you to place in the honesty box just inside the castle gate this helps the Clan to maintain and repair the structure.

Also, please remember to close the gate to the castle to prevent livestock gaining access, especially as there is a well covered in a grate that could be dangerous to them.

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November 3, 2022

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