The Magnificent Ruins of Bothwell Castle, Scotland

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We had some time to spare when we were on a work related visit to Scotland in October 2013 and as always I look for the nearest church or castle……as luck would have it we were very close to Bothwell Castle….. we saw a sign post.

This is a mighty castle and if you look at the plan, there is plenty left to spend some time exploring.  I think I had about 30 minutes, but that’s ample time when you have the whole of a building to yourself… was lovely.  Even the workmen who were repairing the Donjon, the tall tower at the back, you can see their scaffolding in one of the photos, had gone to lunch.




Bothwell is the largest and finest 13th century stone castle in Scotland. Much of castle dates from 14th and 15th centuries, but part of the original circular keep survives. The castle is sited on a high, steep bank, above a bend in the River Clyde, in South Lanarkshire.  The castle owes its origins to Walter of Moray, who acquired Bothwell in 1242. He or maybe his son William, known as ‘the Rich’ began the mighty castle in a spectacular display of feudal pride.

Their dream was never completed, probably because of the outbreak of the Wars of Independence in 1296. What they did achieve is the great donjon – the circular keep tower.  Bothwell figured prominently in the Wars of Independence with England. Siege followed upon siege, in and out of the hands of the English.

After the wars, Bothwell Castle passed to another powerful noble family, the Black Douglas.  The Black Douglases took posession of the castle when Archibald ‘The Grim’ married Joanna of Bothwell in 1362. In the late 1300s and early 1400s the Douglases repaired and extended the buildings and their work is the substantial part of what stands today.








William Murray’s grand design took another turn when the Black Douglases were overthrown in 1455. Eventually Bothwell was handed to the Red Douglases in 1492, but by the 1600s the medieval fortress was losing its lustre for the family and they dismantled parts of it to build a new mansion, Bothwell House, not faraway in 1661.  Although in the end the castle did rather better than the new mansion, which was rebuilt a few times, but in the end due to damage either by dry rot or by mining subsidence, the mansion was demolished in 1926.  In 1935 the then Earl of Home gave Bothwell Castle into state care. The surrounding lands were sold off at this point, but the castle still stands proudly on it’s summit and hopefully will remain there for many years to come.


Image 4 Bothwell House c. 1900

Bothwell House & Castle

10 Replies to “The Magnificent Ruins of Bothwell Castle, Scotland”

  1. That’s a lot of castle! Thanks for all those great pictures. It must have been quite a bustling place when it was occupied.

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