The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available!
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available! 

Crichton Castle

In a lovely but lonely location above the River Tyne, Crichton Castle is a large and impressive old stronghold, first built by the Crichtons and then held by the Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, with a stunning diamond-carved facade and loggia based on a palace in Italy.

Courtyard with a diamond-decorated facade of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: diamond-faced facade and loggia in inner courtyard (© Martin Coventry)

Lothians: About 2 miles east of Gorebridge, on minor road and footpath west of B6367, about 0.5 miles south-west of Crichton village.

 

HES   NT 380612   OS: 66   EH37 5XA

 

OPEN: Castle open Apr-Sep, daily 9.30-17.30 (600 yard walk to castle)

Sales area. WC. Proximity to bats.

Tel: 01875 320017   Web: www.historicenvironment.scot

 

Collegiate church open May-Sep, Sun 14.00-17.00; also weddings.

Tel: 01875 320502   Web: www.crichtonchurch.com

 

Palazzo dei Diamanti (exhibition venue): www.palazzodiamanti.it

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)
Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)

A sophisticated, large and imposing pile, Crichton Castle consists of ranges of buildings from the 14th to 16th centuries, enclosing a small courtyard. The castle stands in a valley in an attractive location above the River Tyne, and a unique feature of particular note is the diamond-faced facade of one block in the courtyard.

Old tower of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: tower (© Martin Coventry)
Ground floor plan of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: ground floor plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

The oldest part is a 14th-century tower, formerly of three storeys. The basement was vaulted, and had a pit-prison. A stair led up the vaulted hall and entrance on the first floor, and another turnpike stair led to the floors above. This castle had a small courtyard.

Plan of first floor of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: first floor plan (MacGibbon and Ross)
View from a window of the great hall of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: window in great hall (© Martin Coventry)

In the 15th century a new gatehouse of three storeys was added, then further ranges enclosing the courtyard, which houses a large kitchen with two wide-arched fireplaces and many other chambers, including the once magnifcient hall with fabulous views.

Kitchen fireplaces of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: kitchen fireplaces (© Martin Coventry)
Second floor plan of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: second floor plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

Another block was added in the 16th century, Italian Renaissance in style, with a magnificent arched loggia supporting a diamond-faced facade, based on Palazzo dei Diamanti, a palace at Ferrara in Italy, which is now an exhibition venue. There are also fine carved fireplaces and some carved embellishment survives. 

Courtyard with a diamond-decorated facade of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: diamond-faced facade and loggia in inner courtyard (© Martin Coventry)
Section of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: section (MacGibbon and Ross)
Turret in courtyard of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)

Outside the castle are the impressive roofless stables.

Stables of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: stables (© Martin Coventry)

‘Crichtoun’ is marked prominently on Blaeu’s map of the Lothians in a fenced park, then as ‘Crigtoun C.’ on Adair’s map of Midlothian.

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)
Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (MacGibbon and Ross)

The castle was a property of the Crichtons, and probably first built about 1370. Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, entertained William, the young 6th Earl of Douglas, and his brother David before having them murdered at the Black Dinner in Edinburgh Castle in 1440, along with slaying Sir Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld. John Forrester slighted Crichton Castle in retaliation.

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (old postcard)

Sir William, however, founded the nearby Crichton Collegiate Church [NT 381616, by the car park] wherein priests were to pray for his salvation – he needed all the help he could get. This is a substantial and impressive edifice, dedicated to St Mary and St Kentigern, dating from 1449, with a square crenellated tower. The church is in a peaceful wooded location with an interesting old graveyard.

  Crichton’s bogle is said to haunt the stables of the castle.

Crichton Collegiate Church, near Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: Crichton Collegiate Church (© Martin Coventry)
Crichton Collegiate Church, near Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Collegiate Church (© Martin Coventry)

The Crichtons were forfeited for treason in 1488, and the property later passed to Patrick Hepburn, Lord Hailes, who was made Earl of Bothwell. One of the family was James Hepburn, 4th Earl, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1559 the castle was besieged and captured by the Earl of Arran after Bothwell had seized some 4,000 crowns from Elizabeth I, which had been meant for the Protestant faction. Mary, Queen of Scots, attended a wedding here in 1562 for Bothwell's sister Janet when she married John Stewart, Lord Aubigny.

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)

After Hepburn was forfeited in 1581 and had fled the country, Crichton was given to Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, who added the Renaissance range in the 1580s and remodelled the castle into a comfortable and sophisticated residence. Francis Stewart was, himself, such a wild and unruly fellow that in 1593 he was also forfeited.

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)

Crichton was sold to the Hepburns of Humbie, and then later to the Callanders. The castle does not appear to have been used much after this, was replaced by Crichton House and then deteriorated into a romantic ruin. Turner painted the castle (www.clayton-payne.com) for inclusion in the The Provincial Antiquities of Scotland, while Sir Walter Scott including it in Marmion.

Courtyard with diamond decorated facade and loggia of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: Renaissance range in courtyard (© Martin Coventry)

Crichton Castle is home to many bats, such as pipistrelle, brown long-eared and Natterers.

Original entrance, now walled up, of Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle: original entrance, now walled up (© Martin Coventry)

The castle is said to be haunted by a horseman, who enters the castle by the original gate, which is now walled up. One further detail is that this is also the phantom of Sir William Crichton, as mentioned above, and the bogle appears on the anniversary of Sir William's death; however the actual date of his death is not now known, other than it was before July 1454, so it is difficult to see how this could be confirmed…

 

Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)
Crichton Castle, a fabulous ruined medieval castle in a pretty spot above the River Tyne, held by the Crichtons, Hepburn and Stewart Earls of Bothwell, near to Pathhead and Edinburgh Crichton Castle (© Martin Coventry)

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