Hailes Castle

Hailes Castle, Lothian

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~ History ~

1290's - Hugo de Gourlay, an important Northumbrian noble, builds his castle on a sandstone outcrop on the south of the North Tyne .

1300's - The de Gorlay's support the English during the wars of Independence and so forfeit their castle. Adam Hepburn rescues the Earl of Dunbar from an attack by a savage horse and so is rewarded with the forfeited castle. The wild and dangerous Hepburn's continue to expand the castle, including a substantial square-plan tower and lofty curtain walls.

1388 - Sir Patrick Heburn saves the banner of the Earl of Douglas from being captured at the Battle of Otterburn. Hailes castle is further expanded to include a courtyard.

1400 - Hailes is attacked by the Earl of March and Hotspur Percy. The Master Douglas raids the besiegers camp and puts them to flight.

1443 - The pro-English Archibald Dunbar storms the Castle and "slew all that he found therin". Every garrison member is slaughtered.

1488 - Following his fathers death six years earlier, Patrick Hepburn is created Earl of Bothwell.

1532 - The castle is burnt.

1547 - Patrick Hepburn is forced to surrender the castle to the Scottish government.

1548 - Lord Grey of Wilton recaptures and garrisons Hailes for the English, not before the Scots have removed the castle's iron gates to prevent the English using it as a stronghold.

1567 - James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell is involved in the murder of Lord Darnley at Kirk of Field, first cousin and husband to Mary Queen of Scots, who is also second in line to the English throne after herself. Lord Darnley with Mary's connivance, is strangled and his house blown up. Eight days after he has obtained a divorce from his wife Lady Jane Gordon, the wild and ruthless Earl rides with eight hundred men to the Bridge of Almond to intercept Queen Mary. He claims that she is in danger and that he must take her to the safety of Dunbar Castle. Mary, with here mere thirty men, is in no position to resist him. Mary is "abducted" and later repeatedly "raped" at Dunbar Castle, following a brief overnight stay at Hailes Castle. Within 3 months of marriage Mary and Bothwell are forced to surrender to the army of the Lords Associators, who are determined not to accept Bothwell as King. Mary is forced to abdicate and James forfeit his title of Earl and flees Scotland. Hailes castle is given to Hercules Stewart.

1570 - From her imprisonment in England, Mary obtains a divorce from James Hepburn. Eight years later he dies insane in a prison in Denmark.

1600's - The castle passes to the Setons before being sold to David Dalrymple, later to become Lord Hailes.

1655 - Cromwell dismantles the castle.


Eeast of Haddington


Off B1407


EH41 4PY

Hailes Castle is an impressive ruin on the River Tyne. It is one of the few Scottish Castles that has the remnants of its 13th century origins and is thought to contain some of the oldest standing stonework in the county.

Situated next to the slow moving river with its reeds and manicured lawns, high walls dressed with red stonework this is a beautiful castle worthwhile exploring. Easy to get to with ease of access with a car park close by.