Places to Visit in Scotland
- Bothwell Castle
On a prominent position overlooking the river Clyde north of Hamilton in Lanarkshire, Bothwell Castle is only a few miles from the main motorway running south from Glasgow. It is a very extensive stone castle with a magnificent round tower which dominates the river below. There is a central courtyard which is surrounded by a wall which rises in places to over 60 feet high.
In such a strategic position, there was a wooden castle here from an early date but it was William Moray, lord of Bothwell who began construction of a huge stone castle in the second half of the 13th century. Moray was extremely wealthy and if his plans had been completed it would have been one of the most magnificent castles in Britain. But before it was finished, King Edward I of England had invaded Scotland and the Wars of Independence which were to last well into the next century.
The English captured the castle in 1296 and William Moray was killed. His heir, Andrew Moray, William Wallace's> companion in arms, also died after the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. The castle was recaptured from the English in 1299 after a siege lasting 14 months but was lost again in 1301, this time after a siege of only a month. It became the main residence of the Earl of Pembroke, Edward I's Warden of Scotland. It did not return to Scottish hands until after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
The English returned in 1336 when it was occupied King Edward III, who stayed at Bothwell Castle for a month, while in Scotland supporting the cause of Edward Balliol. It was recaptured by Sir Andrew Moray (son of Wallace's companion) who at the time was the rightful owner of the castle. Moray destroyed part of the castle walls so that it could not be used again by the English.
In 1362 the castle was acquired by Archibald "the Grim", 3rd Earl of Douglas> and he rebuilt much of the castle as his main residence. It then passed to the Crichtons in 1455 and then a succession of owners until in the 17th century it passed again to the Douglases. King James IV visited the Earl of Douglas at Bothwell in 1503 and again in 1504. But in the 17th century the castle was used to provide material for a Douglas mansion (now destroyed) and passed to Historic Scotland and state care in 1935 (though technically owned by the Earl of Home).
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