Late 14th century tower house; 2 15th century wings; circa 1580 N range. Quadrangular castle around central courtyard sited on sloping ground Coursed sandstone ashlar, coursed rubble, polished margins. Splayed basement course, machicolated parapet to most.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: central door: semicircular head, quirked edge-roll; Renaissance cornice; cherub's heads to ends and centre; architraved window above to 2 storeys. Window to 1st floor left. Corbelled stair turret in re-entrant angle of square stair tower to left; parapet walk to top, corbelled in 3 tiers on 3 members. TOWER HOUSE: rectangular-plan, projecting to right of main door. Small square window to basement right; large window to 1st floor left, irregular arrow slit fenestration to all floors right; blind wall to left return; top floor and parapet now missing. Adjoining 1580 range to right: ruinous L-shaped return of Bothwell's tower, arrow slit fenestration to ground floor, remains of corbelled hanging spiral stair turret in re-entrant angle.
SW ELEVATION: rectangular-plan 15th century range, 3-storeys, ashlar with splayed basement course. Wide doorway: semi-circular head, archivolt and jams, in-filled 16th century with small rectangular window to centre; slit window to flanks with large window above, 2 rectangular windows to 2nd floor; remains of machicolated parapet surmounting.
NW ELEVATION: post 1450, (inferior stonework) parapet, single corbelled, 3-storeys (2 lower ones vaulted), SW angle turret to courtyard, battlemented; postern accessing NW of courtyard; irregular arrow slit fenestration; large rectangular window to wall head stack, smaller windows flanking; further window to centre top; tower-like structure of 6-storeys to right.
NE ELEVATION: Bothwell's Lodgings reconstructed circa 1585; to right irregular fenestration, 3 arrow slits to sloping basement, 6 large rectangular bays above; heavy cornice of 5 corbel courses broken by segmental headed window above bays 3 and 4; upper courses now missing; circa 1585 tower to left: 3-bay to basement, large window to 1st floor centre, now blind; angle turret to each corner (windows on left turret to each return, corbelled with gun loops on right turret), 2nd floor ruinous and mostly demolished. Courtyard elevation: 7-bay arcade (1-bay return on kitchen wing) on polygonal columns, supporting wall decorated with diamond-faceted squares, rectangular fenestration above.
No glazing to any window openings. Roofless to most, except stone vaulted internal areas.
INTERIOR: TOWER HOUSE (SE): vaulted basement, large moulded fireplace; wide splayed windows, hall vault slightly pointed, newel stair; round arched double door to basement; vaulted "Massie More" prison with small kitchen above; mural stair. KEEP/GATEHOUSE (SW): basement: vaulted disused entrance between cellars; 1st and 2nd storey large halls with rich Gothic detail, straight stair, semi-circular arch and floreate hood; large hooded fireplace with moulded jambs and lintels to E end of Great Hall; Upper Hall: stone cornice, ball and flower enrichment - timber roof now missing. NW ADDITION: living area above basement, with fireplaces and privies; doors to connect with newel stair, kitchens and cellarage. NE WING (Bothwell's Lodgings): rearranged living accommodation; great staircase lights; staircase in scale and platt (the first in Scotland), elaborate Renaissance detail - diamond cut exterior wall, FS -MD (Francis Stewart, wife Margaret Douglas) and anchor (signifying Lord High Admiral of Scotland) on capital sited in 7-bay arcade near well draw (SEE NOTES), panelled stone ceilings; quasi-classical pilasters attached to side newel, chequer pattern on capitals (Italian pattern); wider turnpike stair to SW corner; originally with timber gallery along courtyard front facing SW - corbels and putlog holes, formerly gaily painted Medieval detail, now lost.
Statement of Special Interest
PROPERTY IN CARE. Originally a stronghold of the Crichton family. The gatehouse was added for Sir William Crichton, who was made Chancellor in 1437 and Lord in 1445. He was the man responsible for the Black Dinner in Edinburgh Castle where members of the Black Douglas family were killed in front of the King for alleged treason. It passed in 1483 on forfeiture of William, 3rd Lord of Crichton (who had an affair with James III's sister Margaret, which resulted in a child) to Sir John Ramsay, later Lord Bothwell, who in turn was forfeited in 1488. Gifted to Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell, it was eventually lost by James, 4th Earl, husband of Queen Mary, by forfeiture in 1567. Conferred in 1581 on Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, an educated and well-travelled man whose improvements can be seen on the N range. He was fluent in three foreign languages and transformed his castle in extravagant styles he had witnessed abroad. It is thought the diamond facets were based on the Palazzo Dei Diamanti, Casa de Las Picos in Segovia. He was often driven abroad by his rampant ruffianism, and knew Spain and Italy very well. He was also known to dabble in necromancy. It was forfeited in 1594, and thereafter it fell into neglect and changed hands many times. In later centuries the castle was a source of inspiration for Sir Walter Scott who described Bothwell's work which "still rises unimpaired below, the courtyard's graceful portico; above its cornice, row and row, of fair hewn facets, richly show - their pointed diamond form."
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