Fatlips Castle is an iconic Borders pele tower in Roxburghshire atop the Minto Crags 2 miles northeast of the village of Denholm and 1 mile east of the village of Minto at 55.47982°N, 2.66288°W.
Fatlips Castle was the stronghold of the noted Border Reiver, Turnbull of Barnhill. The tower of "Mantoncrake"or "Mynto Crag" was burnt in Hertford's raid on the Scottish Borders in 1545. Following the Turnbulls, the tower has been owned by Sir Gilbert Elliot who's descendants became Earls of Minto and own the property to this day.
The rectangular tower is 56 feet (17m) tall, 26 feet 9 inches (8.15 m) from north to south, and 32 feet 3 inches (9.83 m) from east to west. When the interior was complete it comprised four storeys plus an attic surrounded by a parapet walk.
A number of possible origins for the name "Fatlips Castle" applied to the Minto Crags Borders peel (pele) tower. We have heard the following and favor none above the others.
There was once a goat nicknamed Fatlips on the dunion which warned of the approaching English by bleating loudly.
A local Elliot recounted to us that in the early 18th century the family had a child with Down syndrome who lived out of sight in the tower. The servants who cared for the child used the name Fatlips Castle. This seems improbable as the Elliot family themselves would surely not have used the name Fatlips which appears on their mid-18th century documents.
It is said that one of the pleasures of a visit to Fatlips used to be that "every gentleman, by indefeasible privilege, kisses one of the ladies on entering the ruin.”(Chambers, Robert (1828). The Picture of Scotland I. William Tait. p. 328n.)
Fatlips is the name given to a legendary spirit dwelling in Dryburgh Abbey in Berwickshire, Scotland by a hermit woman who took up residence in the ruins of the abbey. She claimed that Fatlips stamped the moisture away from the ground where she slept with his heavy iron boots. This gave rise to the notion that Fatlips lived in medieval ruins. The Borders Magazine of October 1927 contains a more details account of this version.
Whatever the origin of the name, being unusual, Fatlips adds an aura of mystery and Castle adds an air or importance.