Crichton Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Crichton Castle

Crichton, Scotland, United Kingdom

Crichton Castle is a distinctive fourteenth century castle.

Peta Stamper

25 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Crichton Castle

Crichton Castle is a distinctive medieval castle near Edinburgh, built as the residence of the aristocratic Crichton family in the fourteenth century. While not the site of significant historic events, the castle ties together two influential Scottish families.

Crichton Castle history

Built as a home for the noble family Crichton, the tower house, the oldest part of the castle, was built in the late 14th century by John de Crichton. His son, William, served as Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and was partially responsible for the ‘Black Dinner’ where the 6th Earl of Douglas was murdered. Resultantly, William Crichton gained Bothwell Castle, prompting an attack on Crichton Castle by Douglas’ supporter, John of Corstorphine.

Despite damage to the castle, William reconstructed Crichton, building a collegiate church nearby. However, Crichton was forfeit when the 3rd Lord Crichton supported King James III’s usurper brother, Alexander, in 1483. The castle passed to Lord Hailes who later became Earl of Bothwell.

Crichton passed through the Bothwell family to James Hepburn, 4th Earl, who supported Catholic Mary of Guise during the Scottish Reformation. During the struggles, Mary Queen of Scots‘ regent, the Earl of Arran, ordered an assault on Crichton, and the castle was captured in 1560.

Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Crichton two years after during the marriage of her illegitimate half brother. The Earl of Bothwell was implicated in the Queen’s husband, Lord Darnley, in 1567, and married her later that year. All Bothwell’s estates, including Crichton, were forfeited by the end of 1567 – a pattern that was to repeat itself in 1592 when then-Earl of Bothwell was accused of witchcraft by King James VI. His son, Francis Stewart, was inspired by Italian architecture, adding an impressive diamond-shaped facade around 1580.

In 1956, the castle was given into state care.

Crichton Castle today

Today, Crichton is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, the significant remains sitting on a terrace overlooking the River Tyne. Whilst on site, you can step into the late 14th century tower house and admire the great hall, as well as Francis Stewart’s unique Italian-inspired facade.

Once you’ve gone back in time to relive Scotland’s medieval and early modern history through the castle, step out into the beautiful surrounding area and appreciate the views.

Getting to Crichton Castle

From Edinburgh, Crichton Castle is a 40 minute drive, and is off the A7 at Gorebridge. There is parking on-site. Due to the castle’s rural location, public transport is not suitable.


Featured In

Scottish Castles

Nestled amongst Scotland's stunning landscapes and historic cities are a number of grand castles. Here's our pick of the best, from the domineering Edinburgh Castle to the picturesque Dunrobin.