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The Gatehouse website record of

ye Bonshawe (Bonshaw Tower)

a location shown on a 1590 map of the West Marches of Scotland (The Aglionby Platt)

In the civil parish of Annan.
In the historic county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
Modern Authority of Dumfries And Galloway, Scotland.
1974 county of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY24257206
Latitude 55.03735° Longitude -3.18665°

This is certain as the location of ye Bonshawe shown on the Aglionby Platt.

There are major building remains.

This is a Category A listed building protected by law*.

The likely form(s) of this building in 1590 are;

  • Tower House (gentry).

A section of the 1590 Aglionby Platt. Image reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland
Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

(NY 2425 7206) Tower (NR) OS 6" map (1957)
(Tower-house of the Fourth Period). The tower-houses of Bonshaw, Robgill (NY27SW 7.00) and Wardhouse/Woodhouse (NY27SE 5) are all situated in the same locality, and within one mile of each other, being in the parish of Annan and from four to five miles distant from the town of that name. They stand in a singularly beautiful valley, through which runs the Kirtle Water. Of the three towers, only Bonshaw is anything like perfect, the other two having had very rough usage. They have all evidently been built about the same time and have many points of resemblance to each other. They are within a few feet of the same size, the average dimensions being about 34 ft (10.4m) by 25 ft (7.6m). Bonshaw is slightly the largest. Bonshaw and Robgill have each a splayed base, and the entrance doorway and staircase are alike in both. The mode in which Robgill was finished at the top cannot now be positively ascertained, but the other two towers were almost identical in the corbelling and parapet, and both have splayed shot-holes and the same small high window on the ground floor. In each case the ground floor only is vaulted.
Bonshaw stands on the top of a high bank on the right side of the Kirtle, which here winds through a deep narrow valley. It is most picturesquely situated and stands about 90 ft (27.4m) back from the cliff, with the entrance doorway facing the S. On the edge of the cliff are the remains of old buildings which probably formed part of the courtyard walls.
Over the moulded entrance doorway is the following inscription: SOLI.DEO.HONOR.ET.GLORIA. The entrance passage in the thickness of the wall is vaulted, and a pendant from the roff contained a monogram. The ground floor has four large and finely-splayed shot-holes, one on each of the four sides, and on the W side adjoining the dungeon there is a small window high up in the vault. The small dungeon measures about 8 by 5 ft (2.4 by 1.5m), and is constructed so a to partly project into the cellar from which it enters, a slightly peculiar arrangement; the height of this floor is 9ft 8ins (2.9m).
A good wheel-stair adjoining the doorway leads to the three upper floors and battlements. There is only one room on each floor. On the first floor is the hall, measuring 27 ft (8.2m) by 17 ft 8 ins (5.3m), and 10 ft 3 ins (3.1m) from the floor to the floor above. It has been well lighted at the upper or fireplace end, where there are four windows. The fireplace is large and handsome; it projects 2 ft 1 in (0.6m) from the wall and is about 7 ft (2.1m) high to the top of its moulded cornice. On the projecting jamb there are three holes about 6 ins (150mm) square and about 2 ft (0.6m) from the floor; they were evidently meant for a beam (possibly a revolving spit) sliding through. The ambry in the S wall has an Old Gothic-shaped lintel and, a few steps up the staircase from the hall, there is a carefully-cut stone sink, with a drain to the outside.
The second floor has four windows, that to the E being placed high up in the wall. This floor contains a small garde-robe and the usual wall-press, but no fireplace.
The building is in good order and is well cared-for, but unfortunately about fifty or sixty years ago, the old roof, which was covered with large stone flags, was taken off and the stones used for the floor of a farmsteading. A common slated roof was put on in place of the old. The water is carried from the roofs and battlements by cannon-shaped gargoyles.
Bonshaw was built by the Irvings, and is still in the possession of that family. (D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92)
Bonshaw Tower, a typical late 15th/early 16th c Border Keep, 34 ft by 25 ft,(3) is three-storey to parapet and garret, with vaulted basement. (RCAHMS 1920)
A slate roof has replaced the original one of stone slabs. (J Lennox 1942)
As described above. An inscribed tablet to the south of the tower bears the date 1895, probably indicating when the tower was restored. (Visited by OS (RD) 19 October 1967)
No change to previous field report. (Visited by OS (IA) 21 February 1973)
This well-preserved 16th-century tower-house is the finest of the group of Irving towers that also includes Robgill (NY27SW 7.00) and Woodhouse (NY27SE 5). It occupies a commanding position on the W edge of an escarpment above the Kirtle Water and immediately N of the gorge of the Old Caul Burn, and stands on the S side of the present house, which is dated 1770 above the door and to which it is connected by a passage.
The tower is rectangular on plan and stands to aheight of three storeys and an attic. It has a chamfered plinth, a wide-mouthed horizontal gun-loop central to each wall, mullioned two-light windows, and a continuous wall-head parapet carried on a three-strand corbel table with projecting water-spouts. The gables are crow-stepped and terminate in chimney-stacks with triangular cowels.
On the E side of the tower, there are the remains of its barmkin-wall, which incorporate a postern-gateway (wrought on each jamb with a stout edge-roll) and a number of splayed embrasures. A triangular window-pediment has been re-set above a modern gate in the barmkin wall. (Visited by RCAHMS (IMS), 14 October 1993)
Listed as tower. (RCAHMS 1997) (Canmore)

Rectangular-plan tower house, probably mid 16th century, with 1770 2-storey country house to NE, latter with classical details and with various additions including 1841-2 alterations and additions by Peter Smith, mason and James Scott, joiner, re-using material of the "old mansion house of Bonshaw"; tower linked to house 1896 by low corridor. All rubble-built with ashlar dressings; slated roofs. All arranged around forecourt at head of steep cliff to E and to S.
Tower: 4 storeys, horizontal gun loops to elevations above splayed base course, openings above mostly roll-moulded bipartites or slits: corbelled plain parapet with machicolations; crow-stepped gables (crow steps set forward at NE over internal wheel stair) with end stack at S; roof-pitch lowered, N-facing former attic light in gable apex now serves as an open belfry. Corridor encloses tower outer door and yett: roll-moulded doorway with cornice and panel recess above.
Interior: monogramed pendant boss within doorway; ground floor vaulted, with prison cell and stone girnal, wheel stair within NE angle; wide roll-moulded fireplace at principal (1st) floor, stone window seats and aumbries; fireplace in 2nd floor, and garderobe. House: precise development not clear; earliest part seemingly a 1770 2-storey, 3-bay hose with Doric-columned and pedimented porch and piended roof; E flank single bay; long 3-bay W elevation altered - possibly 1841-2 (though perhaps earlier) - with full-height bow added to right, left bay raised to full height. Continuous eaves band and cornice: corniced stacks. Tall lean-to fills re-entrant angle; crow-stepped service wing to N. Link: roll-moulded slit openings and forecourt door; re-used bolection-moulded doorway incorporated in W wall; concealed roof. Masked cavetto skewputt incorporated in interior wall. Courtyard: crenellated low wall over steep slope largely rebuilt 1895 (dated); some 17th-early 18th century stones incorporated including roll-moulded jambs and broken pediment.
Notes Listed category A for quality of tower. Tower and later works for Irvings of Bonshaw. (Listed Building Report)
The resident householder c. 1590.

The Irvings of Bonshaw
Maxwell-Irving, A.M.T., 1968, The Irvings of Bonshaw: Chiefs of the noble and ancient Scots border family of Irving (Bletchley Printer)
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This record created on 02/08/2015 09:44:20; This record last updated on 17/09/2015 10:52:26

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