Fascinating Remains of Bothwell Castle

The ruins of Bothwell Castle are located about ten miles to the southeast of Glasgow near Uddingston in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The castle stands on a steep bank above the river Clyde which runs on its north side. The river takes a bend here cutting a fairly deep gorge. The oldest parts of the castle were built in 1242 by Walter of Moray. They are made of the most beautiful deep red sandstone and the masonry work by master masons of that era is breathtaking. One can still see the beautifully dressed moldings around windows and doorways and arches in the old tower.

The imposing cylindrical central tower or donjon on the west end of the rectangular castle was one of the early structures. It was damaged in conflicts even before the castle was completed. It is believed that the castle was never completed in the thirteenth century, after its construction was first begun on a lavish scale, probably due to lack of funds.

Bothwell Castle was involved in a series of wars between England and Scotland in the 13th and 14th centuries. Both sides gained and lost possession of the castle many times. Sir Andrew, a descendant of Walter of Moray, regained possession of the castle from the English. Sir Andrew pulled down much of the donjon tower on Robert Bruce’s orders.

The Black Douglas Clan got possession of the castle when Archibald ‘The Grim’ married Joanna of Bothwell in 1362. In the late 1300s and early 1400s the Earls of Douglas repaired and extended the castle. They built the northeast and southwest towers and the range between the two. A substantial part of what stands today was constructed at that time. The cylindrical donjon lay to the west and the Great Hall and south east tower to the east of the rectangular central courtyard enclosed by long curtain walls.

Bothwell Castle was in the possession of the Crown in the 1500s and went the Earls of Forfar in 1669. It was abandoned in the late 1600s and degenerated into the ruins we see today. Today Bothwell Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland.

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