Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle is one of Scotland’s finest medieval monuments. Built from local red sandstone; it dates from the mid 13th century when Walter of Moray inherited the Lordship of Bothwell from the Olifard family, ancestors of the Oliphant family. Archaeological artefacts of both the Olifard and Moray families were found in the ancient parish church of St Brides in Bothwell.

The rich lands of Bothwell and its castle were fought over many times during the Wars of Independence, with the castle changing hands, between the Scots and English, some six times over a period of just 40 years. The grand castle design of the Morays was never completed as a result of this turmoil and it was only when Archibald the Grim, a Black Douglas, married Joanna Murray in the mid 14th century, was the castle completed to the structure seen today.

With the demise of the Black Douglasses in 1455, King James IV bestowed the barony upon Patrick Hepburn but at the King’s request, Hepburn and the title moved to Hermitage Castle in Liddlesdale, with the Red Douglasses coming to Bothwell. The 4th Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn, the third husband of Mary Queen of Scots, therefore had no connection with Bothwell Castle.

The subsequent history of the castle is somewhat uneventful and towards the end of the 17th century, Archibald Douglas, First Earl of Forfar, moved out and started to build a fine Palladian mansion, Bothwell House, using much of the stone from the castle. Alas, like Hamilton Palace, just five years before it, Bothwell House was demolished in 1926, a victim of subsidence from coal mining. The only remaining structure being the current entrance to Bothwell Castle Golf Club. However, nearly 800 years later, Historic Scotland is proud to maintain Bothwell Castle as part of the nation’s built heritage.

Posted under Bothwell Castle

This post was written by admin on September 23, 2008

Timeline

The Lordship of Bothwell created by King Malcolm IV Circa 1153

1242
The Morays inherited and started building a massive castle.

1296
Edward I (Longshanks) laid siege and captured castle.

1298/1299
Scots recaptured castle after Battle of Stirling Bridge.

1301
Edward I returned with 7,000 soldiers and retook castle.

1314
Edward Bruce retook castle after Bannockburn.

1336
Edward III occupied castle.

1337
Scots lead by Sir Andrew Moray II retook castle.

1362
Archibald The Grim (The Black Douglas) becomes Lord of Bothwell.

1489
Patrick Hepburn created First Earl of Bothwell.

1492
Bothwell Castle passed into the hands of the Red Douglasses

1669
Bothwell acquired by Archibald Douglas, First Earl of Forfar.

1690
“Circa”, started building a palladian mansion with over 250 bedrooms etc. using material from old castle.

1925
Mansion demolished

1926
Victim of coal mining subsidence.

1925/2012
All that remains is the magnificent “gatehouse” on the road between Bothwell and Uddingston – now the entrance to Bothwell Castle Golf Club.

Posted under Bothwell Castle

This post was written by admin on September 18, 2008

Bothwell Castle

Walter Moray came into possession of the Lordship of Bothwell in 1242 on the death of his father-in-law. It was a powerful Lordship in that he would be chief justice and chief lawmaker for the Lothian Region. This area was also very fertile with wealthy farmers for “taxation purposes”. Also it was nearer to Lanark.

He came down with his wife and very rich son, called William, from their lands in what is now Morayshire and took possession of Bothwell.

Using probably “rich Willies” money he would soon be the next Lord as dad was getting on they decided to build a castle with a “wow” factor and this was to be a design based on the Chateau de Coucy, a castle in Picardy, France. Returning crusaders from the “Holy Land” said that it was the most wonderful castle in Christiandum! They picked the position of their new castle in this spot as it was a huge slab of red sandstone with the River Clyde flowing past on two sides leaving a steep slope plus huge cliffs on the other side of the River of between 1 metre and 20 metres high. This is where the stone masons would cut the stone for the foundations and castle.

The foundations were laid and the grand “twin tower” entrance over a flooded pit and drawbridge started, as was the “well” tower, two latrine towers and the dining hall where everyone would eat. This was completed first but the next to be completed was the great tower they would call the “donjon”. This was going to be the family residence with walls up to 5 metres thick. The Morays apartments/bedrooms would be on the top floor (3rd), middle floor (2nd) for friends and key members of staff etc. The ground floor would be their living and entertaining area during the day. The basement where there was another well would be where staff etc would reside. They also had built a circle of houses on the very top of the tower and during later years, it would give defending soldiers advantageous firing positions over the attackers. To the locals it must have seemed an enormous structure! It also had a moat to protect the front, a drawbridge and portcullis gate and inner gate. There was also a prison tower for “nobles” captured in battle whilst awaiting their “bag ‘o’ gold” ransom to arrive. For the locals there was a “pit prison” which was or seems to have been, a pretty awful place!

Now that the main parts of the castle (donjon and dining hall) were finished, we presume that they started on the rest but unfortunately it was getting near to the 1290’s, long before the rest of the castle was finished. “Edward the First” invaded Scotland 1296 and laid siege to Bothwell Castle to eventually take it and capture Lord William Moray.

When Lord William was taken, his nephew and heir to the castle and title was “Sir Andrew Moray” one of Scotland’s most powerful nobles and best battle tacticians.

He was also a brave and fierce fighter in battle and a close friend of “William Wallace” who lived “just up the road” in Lanark. It is said that pre 1296 Wallace stayed a lot in the castle meeting with and getting to know Andrew Moray’s powerful friends.

Before 1297, Moray and Wallace had co-planned and fought against the English but it was Andrew Moray’s tactics that won the Battle of Stirling Bridge holding back Wallace from ambushing the English on their way to Stirling or when they were camped the night before the battle. Andrew’s tactics worked and the Scots were victorious.

Sir Andrew was fatally wounded in the thick of the fighting and died leaving his wife to give birth to a baby boy that his wife called “Andrew”.

A small army of Scots came down to Bothwell and so began a long, long siege to get the castle back. Eventually it was re-taken and in retaliation, “Longshanks” put together an army of nearly 7,000 soldiers and invaded Scotland again in 1301.

Bothwell Castle was one of his targets but only after his engineers in Glasgow had built him a 20 metre high siege tower to take the castle walls. It is said that as Edward First was demanding the tower “at once”, the engineers took shortcuts to obtain the heavy beams of wood by going into churches and cutting out roof beams and lifting the wood floors!

This could be why they decided to call the tower “Le Belfry”. It was pulled and pushed out to Bothwell, even building a solid trestle bridge across the Clyde near to Bothwell. After the top walls were breached in places, the tower was pushed up against the wall and desperate hand to hand fighting took place.

However, the castle was captured and held by the English until 1314 in what was to become Scotland’s “50 year war for independence”.

From 1311 onwards Edward II worried about the progress Robert the Bruce was making in Scotland, wrote in 1312 to Aymer de Vaence (The Earl of Pembroke) who had been granted the Barony of Bothwell by Edward, pleading him not to deliver the castle to any other person.

After Bannockburn, Bruce sent his younger brother, Edward Bruce, to take Bothwell Castle plus the many English knights and nobles who had taken shelter there after Bannockburn. Bruce particularly wanted the Earl of Hereford as a hostage and who was exchanged afterwards for Bruce’s Queen Elizabeth, his sister, daughter and nephew.

The arrival at Bothwell of Edward Bruce saw Fitzgilbert, the Governor, throw open the castle gates. This could be because Edward on his way to Bannockburn had ordered that Fitzgilbert’s garrison join his army!

Now after Bannockburn, Fitzgilbert’s castle was filled with knights and nobles great at fighting on horse back but useless at “defending castle techniques”. He could probably see a siege plus starvation taking place as he hadn’t been preparing for a siege. He knew that the Scots wouldn’t give up on all those “bags of gold ransoms” inside so the castles gates were “thrown open”.

The war continued and in 1336 Edward III was now on the English throne and he brought his army up to Scotland. He took possession of Bothwell Castle as he had stayed here with his grandfather at the 1301 siege. He actually liked the castle and lived here from 18 November to 16 December 1336/37. He had stone masons repair some of the walls and his architect and master mason built a new fireplace in the dining hall. He also issued important writs from the castle to his own Parliament.

However the Scots were making his position untenable and the main Scotsman responsible was Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell, son of the victor of Stirling Bridge.

Sir Andrew had grown up under the eyes and influence of the Bruce and was a good friend of Edward Bruce. Like his father, he had become a formidable soldier and tactician. He recaptures various fortresses including Dunnottar and St Andrews. Like Bruce, he destroyed each stronghold. He brought from St Andrews his siege tower and made short work of capturing Bothwell. He patriotically destroyed nearly half of the donjon to ensure that it could never be used again.

Sir Andrew died in 1360 without a son and his niece inherited the title and castle lands. In 1362 she married Archibald Douglas, aka Black Archibald and Archibald “The Grim”. He was leader of the Black Douglasses and made Bothwell his chief seat. He also became Lord of Galloway in 1369 and the Third Earl of Douglas in 1388.

He and his son set about building up the shattered castle but not to the original shape. They built it in a rectangular shape which he felt was much easier to defend in battle. He also founded in 1398 the Collegiate Church of St Brides in Bothwell and the very interesting chancel of which still remains. Here in 1399, his daughter, Elizabeth, married the Duke of Rothesay, eldest son of Robert III. When The Grim died at Threave Castle in 1340, his body was brought back to Bothwell to rest in St Brides. His tomb no longer remains. His son and heir, another Archibald, continued building and by the time he was killed at the Battle of Vernevil in 1424, he had made Bothwell into a most impressive fortress of its day.

After the downfall of the Black Douglasses in 1455, the Barony and castle reverted to the Crown in 1489. Bothwell was bestowed by King James IV on Sir Patrick Hepburn of Dynsyre. He was created the First Earl of Bothwell. He only had Bothwell for a couple of years before “at the Kings request”; he exchanged Bothwell for the Barony of Heritage in Liddesdale, letting him keep the title “Earl of Bothwell”.

The Bothwell lands were given to the Red Douglasses, and the beautiful fortress was their home until around 1649 when the new Lord Archibald Douglas, First Earl of Forfar, acquired Bothwell. Later he decided that a “modern” house would be much better to live in than one of his castles so he decided to build a huge mansion, Bothwell House, just 200 metres from the castle. Some say it had over 200 bedrooms and regretfully the castle was used as a “builders supply yard”. A lot of stone, slate, roof beams, etc were taken.

For over 150 years, this fine palladian mansion was visited by “anybody who was anybody” until it fell victim to subsidence caused by coal mining.

It was demolished in 1926 and all that remains is the magnificent “gate house area” on the road between Bothwell and Uddingston, now the entrance to Bothwell Castle Golf Club.

Posted under Bothwell Castle

This post was written by admin on September 17, 2008