The Roxburghe Estates covers approximately 56,000 acres of the Borders countryside, ranging from the grassy slopes of the Cheviot Hills and the heather clad moorland of the Lammermuirs to the fertile land of the Tweed valley. With such a variety of topography, the type of farming carried out over the Estate’s land is as equally diverse resulting in a variety of produce, be it prime Scottish beef and lamb, malting barley for the whisky distilleries or oats which form the basis of some of Scotland’s most famous culinary dishes.
The majority of the Estate land is let and therefore the farming is carried out by tenants, some of whose families have farmed the same land for 3 or 4 generations. These businesses have evolved over considerable time and many of the Estate’s tenants are at the forefront of the Scottish agricultural industry.
The Estate does however farm in its own right and has done so since 1721 The Duke is keen to preserve the good stewardship of the Estate and this is reflected in the production of quality produce whilst at the same time conserving and enhancing the natural landscape.
In the land that you see around the Castle, we mainly grow crops like wheat for bread making and oilseed rape that is used to make vegetable oil for cooking. It is important to vary the crops that are grown so that they remain healthy and that there is not a build up of pests. Grass is also an important crop and the view from the Castle overlooks the parkland. Depending on the time of year, you might see our own sheep and cattle grazing the parkland which helps to manage the grass properly. Our animals spend most of their time on the Lammermuir Hills where the weather can be very harsh and therefore the sheep and cattle that we farm are very hardy and well suited to survive the snow and cold weather. Indeed, the Cheviot Hills that divide Scotland and England, have given their name to the Cheviot breed of sheep that the Estate and many of our tenants farm. The Cheviot thrives in the Borders hills where other breeds would not and by living off the young heather shoots, the meat of the lamb acquires a uniquely sweet taste which is very sought after by restaurants up and down the country.