Tag Archives: Craigmillar Castle

Light in a Dark Place

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Craigmillar Castle: No 4

Craigmillar Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is situated 3 miles (4.8 km) south-east of the city centre, on a low hill to the south of the modern suburb of Craigmillar. It was begun in the late 14th century by the Preston family, feudal barons of Craigmillar, and extended through the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1660 the castle was sold to Sir John Gilmour, Lord President of the Court of Session, who made further alterations. The Gilmours left Craigmillar in the 18th century, and the castle fell into ruin. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Craigmillar Castle is best known for its association with Mary, Queen of Scots. Following an illness after the birth of her son, the future James VI, Mary arrived at Craigmillar on 20 November 1566 to convalesce. Before she left on 7 December 1566, a pact known as the “Craigmillar Bond” was made, with or without her knowledge, to dispose of her husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

Craigmillar is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland.[1] The central tower house, or keep, is surrounded by a 15th-century courtyard wall with “particularly fine”[2] defensive features. Within this are additional ranges, and the whole is enclosed by an outer courtyard wall containing a chapel and a doocot. — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Historic Scotland | Technical Conservation

Craigmillar Castle: No 2

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore. Of equal importance were the surrounding gardens and parkland, and the present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.

At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this new form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor, and the so-called ‘Queen Mary’s Room’ beside it, where Mary is said to have slept when staying there as a guest of the Prestons. In all probability, Mary resided in a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.

Also here is a labyrinth of dark spaces, including a grim basement prison where an upright skeleton was found walled up in the early 19th century. The west range was rebuilt as the Gilmour family’s residence after 1660. Beyond the well-preserved 15th-century courtyard wall, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes, lie other buildings, including a private family chapel.