Visiting castles in Scotland is special at any time of the year, but there is always a particular resonance in winter, with the contrast of the soft snow and the hard stone. I recently returned to this 16th century Castle, a few miles from Selkirk and it looked as pretty as a Christmas card on the outside.
Once inside, the thick stone walls retain the heat and the castle itself is cosy and warm. In the Great Hall, with its vast inglenook fireplace, the open fire throws out a fantastic orange glow, and even with the modern pictures and sofas, there is still the hint of medieval times.
This room (and castle) has many stories to tell and it is said that one of the previous owners and residents of the castle was a wizard and warlock. Just looking at the old oak door to the Great Hall, with all its carving and ancient graffiti – takes you back in time.
From 1517, the castle site belonged to the Scotts of Aikwood, who eventually built the tower in the 1540s. The marriage stone is still visible in the tower wall above the door, where the Laich Hall enters the tower section at ground level and this commemorates the marriage, in 1602, of Robert Scott of Aikwood and Elspeth Murray of Elibank.
Originally known as Aikwood, because it was located within an oak wood, which the local dialect refers to as “aik wood”, the name was anglicised for a time to be Oakwood, but it has become again Aikwood. Oakwood or Aikwood – it is a great place whatever it is called.
Like many towers and keeps, access internally is by its stone stairs and part of the endearing quirks of architecture and craftsmanship are immediately apparent, as the Kerry-handed (left turning) spiral staircase lies before you and it is 62 steps up to the top floor.
Aikwood Tower is different to most castles and holiday houses in Scotland, because its charm lies in its intimacy. Getting close to the stone walls is part of the package and one that most hotels or more modern castles cannot offer. There is luxury on offer, but it is understated and not necessarily obvious. This is an ideal Scottish castle for a group of up 10 friends for a self-catering break for a week or weekend. For more information, contact the Scotts Castle Holidays friendly sales team who will be delighted to assist further.