The Remarkable Crichton Castle

It may sound unbelievable, but fifteen miles from the center of Edinburgh is an empty stretch along the River Tyne valley where nothing has been built by man in the past 500 years. All that has been built here is Crichton Castle, a looming structure and its collegiate church amidst the trees nearby. The church, built in1449 is remarkably well preserved with only its nave missing. The castle is visible from here, about 500 meters to the west.

When the tower was first built by the Crichtons in 1400 it was 75 feet high rather than the 50 feet it was reduced to by later alterations. In 1450 William Crichton repaired, consolidated and extended Crichton Castle. Most of what is seen today was built by him.
The existing tower house was complemented by three new ranges surrounding a courtyard and a six storey south west tower. Within the south range he built a great hall and also constructed a Gatehouse. He built the Collegiate Church at the same time

William, the Third Laird of Crichton, was forced to flee from Crichton when it was besieged in 1483 because he conspired against James III. King James gave the castle and its lands to Sir John Ramsey and made him Lord Bothwell. He too lost it because of his treachery and Crichton was given to Patrick Hepburn, Lord Hailes who became Earl Bothwell.

The Earldom of Bothwell was withdrawn in 1567, and in 1581 it passed to Francis Stewart, a grandson of the 3rd Earl. He was very much influenced by what he saw on his travels to Europe and transformed the castle into a Renaissance mansion, rebuilding of the north range. He also made alterations to a large part of the rest of the castle. He was responsible for lowering the tower house and subdividing the great hall in the south range.

The most remarkable feature of his renovation work in the 1580s was the carved diamond-faceted red stonework facade on the north range. This truly amazing piece of Italian style architecture has become Crichton Castle’s trademark feature. Crichton Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland.

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