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Remote tower takes visitor honour

23 June 07 23:10 GMT

A remote 15th Century landmark in the Borders has been awarded a visitor honour usually reserved for the likes of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles.

Smailholm Tower has received five-star attraction status from VisitScotland.

The awards are only given out after unannounced inspections of the level of customer service provided.

There are just eight other five-star Historic Scotland attractions and the local area director for VisitScotland has welcomed the "very rare" honour.

The recognition comes at a time when Historic Scotland is embarking on another major project at the site.

It hopes to waterproof part of the medieval roof using turf and sedum plants.

"It takes great team work from all departments to ensure the tower meets all the VisitScotland requirements," said operations manager at Historic Scotland, Neil Young.

"The grass roof project just shows how innovative these teams are, continually striving to conserve and present the property in the best way possible, so future generations can appreciate the tower for years to come."

He also praised monument manager Paul Whitfield for running the attraction "single-handedly".

"It's wonderful to hear the Scottish Borders has another five-star visitor attraction," said VisitScotland's area director Pamela McMahon.

"A five-star grading is very rare and not easy to achieve and we would like to offer our congratulations to Historic Scotland's Smailholm Tower for this achievement.

"I hope their success will inspire others as we must ensure that the hospitality enjoyed by our visitors not only meets, but exceeds, their expectations."

Tower sold

Smailholm Tower dates from the 15th Century and was built by the Pringle family, who were close supporters of the Black Douglases.

The family suffered at Flodden in 1513 when David Pringle, the laird, lost his elder son and three brothers fighting the English.

In the 1540s matters got worse when the tower and surrounding area were raided by English reivers and their Scottish allies.

Insolvency forced the sale of the tower after the death of Sir James Pringle in 1635, when it was bought by Sir William Scott of Harden.

The other Historic Scotland properties with a five-star rating are Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, Jedburgh Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, Caerlaverock Castle, Skara Brae and the Black House, Arnol.

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