Although Bothwell Castle is not in Blantyre Parish, I cant ignore the wonderful history that’s sitting on our very boundaries. The history of the castle is briefly told here for all.
Bothwell Castle is one of Scotland’s largest 13th century castles. Its strategic location meant it became a key location during the Wars of Independence, being captured and recaptured many times in dramatic circumstances. The castle provides an excellent opportunity for investigation of the Wars of Independence and medieval castle life.
Building of this mighty castle began with Walter of Moray after 1242 shortly after Blantyre Priory was built across the River Clyde. Repeated invasions and sieges meant that the original design was never completed and what you see today is largely the work of the Earls of Douglas from the years around 1400.
The present castle is roughly rectangular. At one end is the massive donjon with an adjoining prison tower, which was the original part of the castle. The other end of the castle comprises the Great Hall, and the remains of two towers.
The castle played a key role during the Wars of Independence when it changed hands several times.
In 1296, the English King Edward I invaded Scotland and captured Bothwell Castle. By this time only the donjon and prison tower had been completed. The Scots then starved out the English garrison in a 14 month siege in 1298-9. In 1301 Edward I returned with a huge army and a siege tower, specially constructed to access the top of the donjon. The siege lasted just three weeks before the English took the castle for the second time.
The English then surrendered the castle to the Scots, led by Edward Bruce, after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. It was recaptured during the second Wars of Independence in 1336, when it briefly became the headquarters of King Edward III. In March 1337 a Scots army, under Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, took the castle once again. Though this was Murray’s ancestral home, he ensured much of the mighty donjon was destroyed for fear it might fall into enemy hands once again, leaving it much as you see it today.
By the late 1300s the castle (ruined) had passed to the Earls of Douglas. They repaired and extended Bothwell Castle. By 1424 they had constructed the two residential towers and a range between them which included the Great Hall. They connected the rest of the castle with curtain walls.
Bothwell Castle was the property of the Crown through much of the 1500s, and in 1669 it passed to the Earls of Forfar. In the late 1600s they abandoned the castle in favour of Bothwell House, a large mansion built nearby. Ironically the castle has outlasted this house, which had to be demolished in 1926.
In 1935 Bothwell Castle was placed in the care of the State, and today it is cared for by Historic Scotland.
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