Craigmillar Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Craigmillar Castle

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Craigmillar Castle played host to Mary Queen of Scots.

Lily Johnson

09 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh was built in the 14th century that once welcomed Mary, Queen of Scots and her entourage to stay within its eminent halls. Now managed by Historic Scotland, the castle is a well-preserved medieval ruin with a wealth of fascinating features.

Craigmillar Castle history

Craigmillar’s tower house was first built in the late 14th century by Simon Preston, after the Preston family were granted lands in the area by the Scottish king Robert II. The courtyard was later added by Sir William Preston, who drew inspiration from the continent during his time in France.

In 1544, Craigmillar Castle was damaged during the Burning of Edinburgh in which Henry VIII and Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford had attempted to force a marriage between the future Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots. It was soon repaired by Sir Simon Preston however, and would come to play host to the famous Scottish queen herself on two occasions.

During the second in 1566, a pact between several of her noblemen to murder her husband, Lord Darnley, was signed. It was named the ‘Craigmillar Bond’ after the castle, and the following year was carried out when Lord Darnely was murdered at Kirk o’ Field!

Craigmillar Castle today

Today, Craigmillar Castle is managed by Historic Scotland and is open to the public. Several aspects of the 14th century structure remain, including its impressive tower house – said to be one of the oldest in Scotland! The tower house is home to the castle’s great hall, prison, and the room Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in in 1566. It can be climbed for stunning views of the surrounding Edinburgh – try to spot the iconic Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Park!

There is also a maze of medieval tunnels to explore, and the curious remains of a fishpond shaped ‘P’ for Preston. With its many intriguing features, Craigmillar Castle allows visitors a look into Scotland’s medieval past, while following the footsteps of one of its most well-known queens.

Getting to Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle is located 3 miles southeast of Edinburgh city centre, just off the A7. Parking is limited at the castle, and the use of public transport is encouraged. A number of bus services run to the Craigmillar Castle stop on either Peffermill road or Old Dalkeith Road (A7), both a 10-minute walk to the site. There are bus links from Edinburgh train station, around 3 miles away, from which a taxi or hour-long walk will also take you to the site.

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