Craigmillar Castle, Lothians
Craigmillar Castle Rd, Edinburgh
Craigmillar Castle is one of Scotland's most perfectly preserved castles, situated in the outskirts of Edinburgh. It consists of a 14th century Tower House, surrounded by a 15th century curtain wall. Fine domestic buildings were built round the courtyard which still today demonstrate wealth and status.
The castle is well sign-posted with a car park provided close to the castle with good access. A fabulous castle.
~ History ~
1374 ~ Simon de Preston acquires the lands of Craigmillar from William de Capella, taking the title of 'of Gorton and Craigmillar'. He later builds a fortified tower house in order to secure his estates.
1479 ~ Simon III de Preston is implicated in the death of King James III younger brother, John Stewart, Earl of Mar.
He had been tasked by the King to hold his popular brother, after having already locked up his other brother, Alexander, Duke of Albany, in Edinburgh Castle. Alexander manages to engineer an escape from his imprisonment, fleeing the country.
John Stewart is less fortunate. Following a period of captivity at Craigmillar Castle, under the pretext that John had fallen ill, he is conveyed to Edinburgh in the care of the King's physcian and taken to a house in Canongate where, allegedly in the interests of his health, he is bled. He is placed in a bath of warm water, and there his veins cut open, and he is held down until he bleeds to death. Thus, the King's younger brother's death is reported as a well meant attempt that went sadly wrong.
However, rumours quickly spread, so to help cover up the murder a number of unfortunate women are rounded up and accused of witchcraft. They are burnt at the stake.
1544 ~ King Henry VIII lands and English army at Leith to further his influence on the Scots to force the marriage of his son, Prince Edward, and the two year old Mary Queen of Scots. Craigmillar is besieged and captured. Sir Simon IV de Preston, Baron of Craigmillar is captured, albeit released soon after.
1558 ~ Sir Simon serves Mary, Queen of Scots, during her time living in France, safe from her English enemies. He attends the Queen's marriage to Francois, the French Daurphin.
1560 ~ Following the untimely death of Francios, Sir Simon returns to Scotland as part of Mary's retinue.
1563 ~ Sir Simon entertains his Queen at Craigmillar Castle. During her stay at the castle, Mary grants an audience to Thomas Randolph, the English ambassador, who advises her to find an acceptable husband. Mary subsequently marries Henry, Lord Darnley.
1566 ~ Mary returns to Craigmillar following a disastrous year in which she had seen her secretary and closest confidant, David Riccio, murdered in front of her at Holyrood House. Just months later she had given birth to her only child, the future King James VI of Scotland and I of England. She arrives in a deep state of depression seeking solace and peace.
By the end of her three week stay at the castle, a murderous pact known as the 'Craigmillar Bond', including the Earls of Argyll, Huntly and Bothwell, had decided to do away with the troublesome Queen's husband, Lord Darnley.
1567 ~ Mary suggest to her husband to spend some time at Craigmillar castle, but he declines this, choosing instead to stay at a house at Kirk o' Field, on the edge of Edinburgh. Here the house is blown apart by gunpowder. Darnley's body is discovered in the courtyard. He had been strangled.
Mary is later forced to surrender to her Protestant lords at Carberry, east of Craigmillar. She is bought under guard to Sir Simon Preston's town house in the centre of Edinburgh. The following day she is imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.
1660 ~ The Craigmillar estates are sold to Sir John Gilmour, a leading lawyer and loyal supporter to King Charles II.
He sets about a major rebuilding program at Craigmillar Castle. However, in time they decide to move to another of their residences, Inch House.