Midlothian Castles

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Borthwick Castle

Borthwick CastleBorthwick Castle is situated just of the A7 road some 12 miles to the south of Edinburgh. A twin baronial keep it is without doubt one of the most historic building in Scotland and indeed Europe. A charter to build the castle in 1430 was awarded to Sir William de Borthwick by the then King James 1 for thanks in bringing him home after 18 years imprisonment in England. Sir William de Borthwick's sepulcher and that of his lady is interred in the nearby St Kentigern Church. The castle is also a stronghold built to withstand invasion particularly at that time from the English.The walls are up to 14 feet thick and 110 feet high and the name was taken from the builder and is still the ancestral home of the Borthwick family.

On 10th February 1567 Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was murdered at Kirk o Fields, Edinburgh. He was the husband of Mary Queen of Scots's. Guilt of this murder was placed squarely at the feet of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Mary married Lord Bothwell somethree months later. This fanned speculation from the Scottish nobles and they decided that Mary had to be rescued from the clutches of Bothwell. Mary sought sanctuary at Borthwick Castle. The then 6th Lord Borthwick for ever loyal to his Queen did not hesitate to put the protection of the castle at her disposal. On June 11th 1567 the Scottish nobel's surrounded the castle. Bothwell escaped leaving Mary behind. Later Mary escaped but was quickly captured. She was never a free woman again.

Had Mary remained under the protection of the Borthwick's, history may have chosen a different line. We will never know. The painting on the right now hangs in her bedroom at the castle. She was without doubt one of the most tragic figures in Scottish history. The loyalty of the Borthwick's was again put to the test on the morning of November 18th 1650 when the castle was surrounded by the forces of Oliver Cromwell after the Battle of Dunbar. During the siege Cromwell sent the 9th Lord Borthwick a letter giving him the opportunity to vacate the castle and take with him anyone he chose and anything he could carry. Borthwick did not reply immediately and Cromwell's artillery bombarded the castle. Borthwick made the decision that to hold out would be useless and with dignity still intact, he walked from the castle with his wife and family. The damage caused by the bombardment can still be seen to this day.

Crichton Castle

Chrichton CastleCrichton Castle is situated just of the A68 road as you enter the village of Pathhead Midlothian and some 12 miles to the south of Edinburgh. The keep which is in the middle of the Castle is the oldest part and was built by John de Crichton in the 14th century on a charter of barony granted by Robert III. In 1444 William Crichton who was the son of John was in Edinburgh when the castle was stormed by the Douglases who were is enemy. William was twice the Chancellor of Scotland between 1439-53. After the attack William not only rebuilt the castle but extended it. William Crichton also organised the famous black dinner when he had the new Earl Of Douglas and his brother murdered. The Crichton tenure of the castle came to an end in 1483 when it was forfeited from William 3rd Lord Crichton for conspiracy against James III.

In 1484 the King awarded the castle to Sir John Ramsay of Bothwell who later had to flee to England after the battle of Sauchieburn. In 1488 the castle and the title was passed to Sir Patrick Hepburn of Dunsyre. The castle again was forfeited in 1567 from James Hepburn 4th Earl of Bothwell and third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1581 the castle and the earldom were claimed by Francis Stewart 5th Earl of Bothwell who was a cultured well educated man who transformed the castle. The stables as shown in the photograph above, and to the left of the castle were built by him in the 1580's and show the accommodation area above the stables for the servants. In 1595 in disgrace Stewart fled abroad and the King ordered the castle to be pulled down. The order was never carried out but the castle fell into ruins and was mortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his poem Marmion. People make history and without doubt you could not make the story of Crichton Castle up.

Roslin Castle

Roslin CastleThe spelling is also Rosslyn Castle and it situated in the small village of Roslin to the south of Edinburgh. The keep which is the oldest part of the Castle dates back to the 14th century and was built by Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney. The Sinclair or St Claire family have held land in the Lothians since around 1160 and the castle was built on the rocks leading down to Roslin Glen. The castle was extended in the 15th century by William Sinclair who also built the nearby Roslin Chapel. He fortified by adding a deep gorge and spanning with a drawbridge. The castle over the years has been damaged for many reason. One was a fire in 14447 and the the castle was attacked by the Earl of Hertford in 1544 who burned the castle during the Rough Wooing. The keep was almost totally destroyed but one of the walls can still be seen today. A new part of the castle was built into the rock, and the gatehouse rebuilt in 1622. The castle was finally destroyed by Cromwell's troops in 1651. The castle was further damaged by reformation mobs in 1688. A small mansion now stands in the shell of castle which was built by the Sinclair family, and can be seen on the picture on the left. The current owner is the Earl of Rosslyn.

Dalhousie Castle

Dalhousie CastleAbout 1120 AD an Englishman of Norman descent who went by the by the grandious name of Simundus de Ramsay followed King David I from Ramsey which is a small village in Huntingdonshire to Scotland. It is thought he was the founder of the Ramsay clan. The first castle at Dalhousie was founded by him. The drum tower now the oldest part of the present structure date back to the 15th century. Most of the remainder were built in the 17th century. Over the centuries the castle has played host to many a historic figure. Before the battle of Falkirk on July 22nd 1298 Edward I resided in the castle on his way to meet Sir William Wallace who had routed the English army at Stirling Bridge on 11th September 1297. In 1400 the castle then under the control of Sir Alexander Ramsay withstood a siege for 6 months when it was attacked by Henry IV of England. Around 1900 the seat of the Clan Ramsay moved to Brechin Castle althought they retained ownership of Dalhousie until 1977. In 2004 a serious fire broke out in the roof of the castle, although extensive the damage was repaired. The castle is now under private control and is used as a hotel.

Oxenfoord Castle

Oxenfoord Castle is situated around 9 miles to the south side of Edinburgh between the town of Dalkeith and the village of Pathhead and on the main A68 road leading to the borders and to England. It started of life as a tower in the 16th century and at that time was owned by the Macgill family. The castle was inherited by Lady Dalrymple in 1779. Around 1780 the family employed Robert Adams a famous Scottish neoclassical architect to redesign the old towers and this work was completed some two years later. In 1840 the family inherited the title of Earldom of Stair further redesign was carried out by William Burns in 1840. Some say that Burns spoiled the work carried out by his more famous predecessor Robert Adams. The original garden is now used as a functional market garden. Today the Castle is now a exclusive hotel and used extensively for weddings and outdoor pursuits. The pursuits include off road driving, shooting, archery and falconry. The Castle is typical Scottish Baronial style and unlike some of it's famous nearby counterparts did not play much of a part in the violent history of the shaping of present day Scotland.

Hawthornden Castle

Hawthornden CastleIn a very secluded spot Hawthornden Castle is situated on the River North Esk and is around a mile down stream from Roslin Castle. It began life in the 13th century and the property of the Abernethy family. The castle was passed to the Douglases in the 14th century. In 1544 the castle was attacked by the English Nobleman the Earl of Hertford and again in 1547 during the period of the Rough Wooing. The property again changed hands in the 16th century and was purchased by Sir John Drummond who was a usher to King James VI of Scotland and 1st of England. The famous poet Sir William Drummond was born here. His exact date of birth is unknown but it is thought to be 1770 and he later extended the castle. In 1618 the famous English poet Ben Jonson visited the castle and a century later by Dr Samuel Johnson. Over the life time of he Castle major renovations and modernisation have taken place. There are man made caves beneath the castle that were in use before the castle was built. The castle is now famous as a writers retreat patronised by authors of the caliber of Alasdai Gray and Ian Rankin. The castle is a List A protected building and he caves below are protected ancient monuments. The attached photograph shows the castle fro the opposite bank of the River North Esk..

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