Crichton Castle

Crichton Castle, Midlothian


~ History ~

1300's ~ John de Crichton receives from the hands of King Robert III confirmation of the rights to the barony Crichton. He builds the massive residential tower.

1400's ~ Sir John's son Sir William Crichton if made Sheriff of the city of Edinburgh for King James I and is held in favour at the Royal Court.

1437 ~ During King James II minority Sir William  proclaims himself Chancellor of Scotland.

1440 ~ In order to secure his influence over the young King he plots to destroy his main political opponents the 'Black' Douglas.

He invites William Douglas, 6th Earl of Douglas and his younger brother David to a feast at Edinburgh Castle. During the meal, the main guest is King James II. The head of a black bull is presented the William Douglas, a symbol of imminent death. Despite the violent protests of the king, the two Douglases are found guilty of high treason and the same day beheaded in the castle courtyard.

War breaks out between the Douglases and Crichton.

1444 ~ Sir William is removed from his position of Chancellor and is outlawed. He seeks santuary in the safety of Edinbugh castle. The Douglases see that they would not be able to take Edinburgh Castle so take revenge on Crichton Castle. The castle is however only partially damaged.

1448 ~ Sir William returns in favour of King James II and is soon appointed as the 1st Lord Crichton, and again assumes the position of Chancellor of Scotland.

1450 ~ As one of the wealthiest Lords in all of Scotland, Sir William is in a position to loan 500 pounds to the King. This compared to his opponent and arch rival the Earl of Douglas who can only muster 100 pounds.

1452 ~ Sir William witnesses the death of the next Earl of Douglas, during a meeting between King James II and Sir William Douglas, the 8th Earl of Douglas following a serious quarrel. As a result the King personally stabs his opponent, throwing his body out of the window of one of the castle buildings.

1454 ~Sir William dies. His son, inheriting his fathers wealth, easily manages to pay for the cost of repairing Crichton castle.

1469 ~ Sir William's son and heir dies suddenly. His son, another William Crichton, has an affair with Margaret Stewart, sister of King James III.

1484 ~ William Crichton takes part in a failed rebellion, forfeiting all lands and titles, including Crichton castle. 

A short time later, King James III gives barony Crichton to Sir John Ramsay of Bothwell.

1485 ~ Sir John is appointed 1st Lord Bothwell and Lord Treasurer of Scotland.

1488 ~ Shortly after the Battle Sauchieburn between King James III and rebellios Scottish Lords, the King is assassinated.

Sir John Ramsay, who during the skirmish faithfully stood at the side of the monarch, is forced to flee from the vengeance of the new ruler of Scotland, King James IV, forfeiting all his lands and titles.

These are awarded to Sir Patrick Hepburn, 2nd Lord Hailes, who later becomes Earl of Bothwell.

1513 ~ Sir Patrick's son Adam is killed at the Battle of Flodden fighting the English.

1560 ~ During the Scottish Reformation the castle is besieged and captured by the Earl of Arran.

1562 ~ Patrick's daughter Jean marries her first husband, John Stewart, Lord Darnley at Crichton castle. John Stewart's half-sister Mary, Queen of Scots, spends a few nights at the castle while attending this wedding.

1567 ~ The Earl of Bothwell is implicated in the murder of Queen Mary's husband Henry Stuart, Lord Danley, and becomes Queen Mary's third husband later the same year. All Bothwell's titles and estates, including Crichton castle are forfeited.

1568 ~ Crichton, along with Bothwell's other estates, are granted to Francis Stewart, son of John Stewart, Lord Darnley, and Jean Hepburn, and thus bastard grandson of James V.

1577 ~ Francis Sewart is created Earl Bothwell, but conspires against the young King James VI, and is accused of witchcraft. He forfeits his estates and is forced to flee to Naples.

1586 ~ Sir Francis entertains King James IV at Crichton castle.

1589 ~ Sir Francis takes part in a failed rebellion of Sir George Gordon againts the King, resulting in his imprisonment.

1591 ~  Sir Francis is again imprisoned in Edinburgh castle and accused of trying to murder the king through witchcraft in calling a storm to sink the kings ship returning from Denmark.Realising the gravity of the situation Francis makes ​​a daring escape from the castle. He also managed to escape from their pursuers led by the king himself.

1592 ~ Francis along with other conspirators attempt to kidnap the king at Falkland Palace, ending in failure. Over the next months, Sir Francis leads his rebellion mainly in the Scottish Borders.

1593 ~ Francis Stewart is found guilt of treason, but he escapes with a few companions to the royal bedroom in Holyrood Palace. There, in the royal bedroom he forces the king to dismiss the charges against him and the forgiveness of all sins. Later he is acquitted of all his crimes against the king in  a farce cort judgement. The next month, in Linlithgow Palace, James VI, however introduces an important modification of the judgment. Its key point was to be Stewart's banishment from the country. This leads to another rebellion.

1594 ~ Following a skirmish with the royal army Bothwell decides to retire back to the Borders we he later joins Spanish conspiracy aimed precisely with the help of Spain and its king Philip II to restore the dominance of the Catholic religion in Scotland.

After the collapse of the rebellion and Battle of Glenlivet, Stewart's now only option was to escape from the country via Orkney to France and then Spain.

Shortly after King James VI orders the complete destruction of  Crichton Castle. However this order is never acted upon.

1600's ~ During the reign of King Charles I ownership to the castle is transferred to the son of the deceased Francis Stewart, the young master Bothwell. However, plagued with serious financial problems he sells the castle. The castle falls into decline and disrepair.



Penicuik, Crichton

14 miles South-East of Edinburgh


Off B6367


EH26 9DL

The fourteenth-century castle Crichton is located in a high and steep hill, in a beautiful and very secluded valley of the River Tyne.

His oldest part is located in the central part of the current east wing, a massive residential tower.

There is a dedicated car park as you pass through the village and head up the path towards the castle.

Whilst the outside of the castle has plenty to explore set against fabulous views, the interior of the castle is even more spectacular. Unfortunately on the day we visited it was closed.

A terrific border castle is some importance.