Places to Visit in Scotland
- Craignethan Castle, Lanarkshire
When you turn off the main road on the approach to Craignethan Castle the sign says "2 miles" but what it doesn't say is that it is a mainly single track road which goes up and down like a roller coaster and with sharp turns all the way. But despite the hair-raising drive, a surprising number of people find their way there!
The castle sits on a promontory overlooking the deep gorge of the river Nethan.It consists of a square tower house (which used to have flanking towers of which only one survives) with a deep ditch in front, surrounded by a wall with a gatehouse. The dry ditch has a "caponier" across it from which gunners could fire on any attacking forces. There used to be a massive rampart in front of the tower house but that has been demolished. Inside the wall there is also a house next to a corner tower, built in 1665 and another corner tower with a dovecot.
The castle was first built by Sir James Hamilton in 1530 and was the last great defensive castle to be built in Scotland. Sir James later fell from favour and was executed for treason. His half brother, also named James Hamilton, became Regent of Scotland and was created Duke of Châtelhérault in France. But the Duke opposed the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots> to Lord Darnley and was banished to France.
Perhaps to curry favour, the Duke later supported Mary Queen of Scots (she sheltered there in May 1568 after escaping from Loch Leven Castle> and before her defeat at the Battle of Langside). Craignethan became involved in the violent politics which followed Mary's departure (to England and her eventual execution there) and was besieged more than once. The Hamiltons had been involved in the murder of two of the Regents of Scotland during this period and in 1579 they were indicted for the past crimes. Craignethan and neighbouring Hamilton Castle were captured and the destruction which is evident today was carried out at that time. It had lasted as a stronghold for only 50 eventful years.
Craignethan later acquired some more notoriety when it became linked to "Tillietudlem Castle" in Walter Scott's> "Old Mortality". Scott denied the connection but at that time Craignethan was covered in ivy and fitted his description. The present owners, Historic Scotland, have removed all the ivy as it damages the stonework.
Return to the Main Index of Places to Visit>
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>