Events leading up to Crossbasket Possession II

Exploring the events that led up to the early possession of Crossbasket Castle…..continued on from previous article.

“Before we leave Mains Castle, I’d like to add a few further notes. Speaking of nearby Mains Castle, the house of the Lindsays, in particular, the ruins of it in 1793, “It is wholly in ruins,” said David Ure early historian of Kilbride, “except the tower, which is pretty entire. At the west end of it, is a dark and dismal vault, which seems to have been used as a prison ; the wall near the ground is about six feet in thickness ; the windows are extremely narrow and irregularly placed. It was surrounded by a deep fossa, which is yet visible ; the chief entry was by a narrow drawbridge on the east, and strongly guarded by a beautiful arched gate. What contributed greatly to the beauty of the Mains was an artificial lake, a little to the south of the tower. It covered a space of about twenty acres. A small island, composed of earth and stones was raised in the middle of it, which, besides beautifying the scene, afforded a safe retreat for the water-fowl with which the place abounded.” The lake has since been drained.”

Ure, confirmed also that Mains Castle had been lived in right up until 1723, after which the roof was taken off for the use of slates when offices at Torrance were being built.

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Mains Castle at Stewartfield photographed in 2009

Mains Castle shares huge similarities to Crossbasket Tower, especially in its design features. Indeed looking at both towers today, they look almost identical. Measuring around 11.6m east-north-east to west-south-west by 8.2m west-north-west to east-south-east, Mains Tower rises to a height of approximately 12.5m to the top of the parapets, with a garret adding another 3.7m. The castle is entered by a low arched doorway at the west side of the south wall, which leads into an intra-mural spiral stair rising the full height of the building and surmounted by a square caphouse.

At ground floor level is a vaulted chamber with a loft level accessed separately from the stair by a passageway, at the end of which is a small trapdoor leading down to a prison within the castle’s wall. On the first floor is the main hall, with two windows featuring window seats. The second floor was divided into two chambers, most probably bedrooms. Leaving the caphouse gives access to the parapet walk and the garret. Originally the castle would have been surrounded by a barmkin wall and ancillary buildings, although these are no longer present.

The entire site was surrounded by a deep ditch, with access over a drawbridge to the east. The gatehouse for the drawbridge was decorated with a stone carving of the Royal Arms. The ditch and evidence of the drawbridge were apparently still visible in 1793. Around 1743 the carved panel from the drawbridge gate was taken to Torrance House where it was set above the doorway. In the 1880’s the castle was restored, but it was later abandoned once more, and between world War I and World War II the roof was again removed following damage during a storm.

Today, Mains Castle sits in its original location at the edge of the James Heritage Park at Stewartfield. (The field of the Steward). It was renovated in 1976-1986 by Mike Rowan although had for several centuries before, had been derelict. He won Saltire awards for this renovation which included solid oak doors, stone fireplaces and flagstones. In 2002, he sold it to Glasgow couple Senga and John Kemp who describe it as their “dream home.” It is this building which today still has a strong connection to Crossbasket.”

(c) Words taken from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka

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