Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Castle Obsession - Bothwell Castle, Scotland

Bothwell Castle is one of those castles that I first became infatuated with at the tender age of 14 as it was featured in a romance novel I absolutely adored in which the main character, James, was a descendent of the Bothwell family.  Although I have visited Scotland, I didn't get a chance to visit Bothwell Castle, so I thought I would include it on my list as I plan on going to see it when I go back in a couple of years.

Bothwell Castle is a medieval castle, located about 10 miles south-east of Glasgow.  The castle was first constructed in the 13th century, but underwent a series of sieges and eventually was abandoned in the 18th century.  It is currently managed by Historic Scotland and is open to the public.

History of Bothwell Castle
David Olifant was granted the Barony of Bothwell by King David 1 in the 12th century.  His heir, who married Walter of Moray, began construction of the castle about 100 years later, but by 1296 only managed to complete the main donjon, the prison, the connecting curtain wall, and the foundation for the rest of the building. 

Bothwell's location was often in the way of British invasion forces into Scotland.  In the late 13th century, Bothwell Castle and all its inhabitants, including Walter de Moray and his son William were seized.  The English Garrison holding William and Walter were besieged by the Scots for 14 months, until the English eventually gave up.  However, Edward 1 returned in 1301 with over 6000 men, capturing the castle once again.  The 2nd Earl of Pembroke was appointed the Warden of Scotland and remained at Bothwell for several years.

After the battle of Bannockburn, the English nobility often used Bothwell as a refuge.   This is something I find fascinating, as Sir Walter FitzGilbert surrendered the castle to the Scots and was awarded the barony of Cadzow, the progenitor of the House of Hamilton.  The castle was destroyed after its surrender, again something I find fascinating.  It's a tradition of the Scots to SLIGHT something, meaning to destroy, in order that it cannot be used again by the enemy. 

However, in 1336, the English returned again, but lasted for only a short time as the rightful heir recaptured the castle.  Sir Andrew Murray, the heir, destroyed the west side of the Donjon by having it fall into the river so that it could not be used again by the enemy.  The castle remained unoccupied for around 30 years.

The Reoccupation of Bothwell
Joan Moray married Archibald Douglas, a man with the nickname "The Grim" (lovely, eh?) in 1362.  He was later to be Earl of Douglas, part of the Black Douglases.  He began rebuilding Bothwell, the work being continued by his son. 

Bothwell and all other lands belonging to the 9th Earl of of Douglas were forfeit in 1455 for rebelling against the King. Bothwell exchanged hands many times over the next few years, eventually being granted to Patrick Hepburn who had the Earldom of Bothwell created for him.  He quickly exchanged it for Hermitage Castle with Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus.  In a strange twist of fate, Bothwell Castle ended up back in the hands of the Douglases, this time the Red Douglases.  (Just a note of historical interest, the red Douglas line was restored to peerage in 1633 when William Douglas was created First Marquess of Douglass by Charles 1.)

Bothwell Castle descended through the Earls of Angus, eventually going to the Earls of Forfar.  The 1st Earl of Forfar, Archibald Douglas, constructed a new mansion nearby that stood until the early twenties.  In 1715, a lawsuit arose over an inheritance issue and Archibald Steward of Grandtully won, so the castle reverted to the Earls of Home.

Today, there is very little left to see, but it is still interesting to view a place where so much of Scotland's history took place and where so many important historical figures trod.



  1. Hi There! I'm here from follow up friday. I live in England and have been to many castles in the Uk. I loved reading about Bothwell Castle, great write on it. I'm your newest follower.

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    Have a beautiful day!