1718 Blantyre Priory & Bothwell Castle

1718 Engraving of Blantyre Priory

1718 Engraving of Blantyre Priory

This is a copper engraving plate dating from 1718. To the left Bothwell Castle on the left of the photo is Blantyre Priory, perhaps one of the best indications as to how the building looked. In recent weeks, I’ve been collecting all descriptions, both visualisations and narrative about the Priory with the hope of showing a sketch of how it once looked when complete. I’m by no means any sort of artist, but think I have enough to show a crude depiction of the sort of dimensions and style of the building and i haven’t seen anybody do this yet.

The engraving is titled ‘Prospectus Arcis Bothwellae. The prospect of Bothwell Castle. This plate is most humbly inscribed to the Honble. Brigadier Dalzel.’

For now though, this plate was a great discovery. It is one of the oldest known records of how our oldest building, The Priory looked.

On social media:

Chris Ladds Brilliant article Paul. The John Slezer engraving here Paul is even older. At least as early as the book it appeared in: Theatrum Scotiae, 1693

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  1. Dr Alan Blackwood

    Having grown up on the Bothwell Castle Estate in the 1960s before the erection of the modern housing to the East of the castle (when everything was a little wilder than things are now), I acquired a fairly ‘intimate’ knowledge of the layout and the fabric of the castle itself. However, it was as an adult that I started ‘exploring’ the site of Blantyre Priory across the river – not that there seemed to be a lot to explore and most of it irretrievably over-grown. I guess it’s about twenty years or so since I’ve been on the ground there but for a good fifty years it’s something I’ve wondered about – what did the priory look like?
    For all of those fifty years I’ve been familiar with Slezer’s 1693 engraving and I’ve always found it to be problematic. 18th century views of the castle from the Blantyre side of the river by Paul Sandby and by William Adam are immediately recognizable – they match with the castle as we know it pretty well. Slezer’s engraving does not. Even allowing that in Slezer’s day the North-Eastern square tower seems to have stood largely to its full height before subsequent demolition, Slezer’s view of the Western (Donjon) end of the castle seems to a work of the imagination – or to have been done from memory – it is not a view that can be reconciled with the ruins of the castle as they stand today and as they are known to have stood since late medieval times.
    Slezer’s problematic engraving of course incorporates buildings which in all likelihood are meant to represent Blantyre Priory or whatever the Priory had become in the secular world of 1693 – it certainly would not have functioned a monastic house after 1560. But again, as with the castle, there are obvious problems with Slezer’s depiction of the Priory buildings – most obviously they are too low down and too near the water – again it looks as if Slezer might have been working either from memory or with some artistic license.
    While I too would dearly love to know more about Blantyre Priory, its history and its architecture, I for one would be cautious in my use of Slezer’s engraving as a guide.

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