Joseph Mallord William Turner

Horsburgh Castle, near Peebles


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 11 a

Catalogue entry

Horsburgh Castle is a ruined sixteenth-century tower house on the northern bank of the River Tweed opposite the hamlet of Glentress, about two and a half miles to the east of Peebles. Turner made quick sketches of the ruin during his journey from Peebles to Innerleithen, on a two-day excursion to the Scottish Borders from his base in Edinburgh on 2 and 3 October 1834; see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction. Further sketches are on folios 11 verso–12 verso (D26115–D26117).
The sketch across the top half of the page shows the castle on a mound surrounded by trees, with a ridge of hills beyond as seen from the road to the north. The serpentine line to the right marks Eshiels Burn, which flows into the River Tweed. The sketch across the bottom half of the page may also depict the castle, but this time it appears as a small shape at the right of the sketch which faces in a more south-easterly direction. Turner’s inscription ‘Hors Bra Cas’, at the top right of the page, is a transcription of Horsburgh Castle.
Turner seems not to have sketched the nearby castle of Nether Horsburgh, which was perhaps hidden from the road as it is now, but he did draw Cardrona Castle as he passed it on the road to Innerleithen: folio 13 (D26118). On his arrival, Turner made several quick sketches of the town (folio 14; D26121) before turning south to Traquair House: folio 17 verso (D26127).

Thomas Ardill
December 2010

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