It's a wet and windy January afternoon and it's also hard to imagine an iron cage hanging from these walls, a cage containing a king's sister. She was Mary, sister to Robert the Bruce, held here by the English, 'exposed to public view' from 1306 to 1310, then removed to a convent, (presumably to stop a valuable hostage from dying of exposure). She was released after the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) in exchange for English noblemen.
Ah yes! Bannockburn. There's a happier story! Our last 'home win', 700 years ago on 23 and 24 June. And Roxburgh Castle was taken for the Scots by 'Good' Sir James Douglas earlier that same year by creeping up on it with sixty men disguised, they say, as cattle; though sadly we don't have the exact day to celebrate it. This left Stirling as the only Scottish Castle in English hands... fanfare and cue Bannockburn re-enactment later this year.
But returning to Roxburgh, this is what Andrew Spratt (and he's normally pretty good) thinks it looked like.
Roxburgh changed hands between Scots and English 13 times and was eventually destroyed by the Scots in 1460. But this was another bitter and uncertain time: our king, James II, had been killed standing by a canon, firing on English-held Roxburgh Castle from the grounds of Floors Castle across the Tweed.
The magnificent building that now smiles benignly across the river is a modern structure (of 1721) but well worth a visit. And if you do go, look for the holly tree marking the spot where James II was killed by his favourite canon. And perhaps you will take time to wander up to the thought-provoking ruins of Roxburgh Castle.