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- HER number: MEL8216
- Site Name: Borthwick Castle
- Grid Reference: 336990 659731
- Civil Parish:
- Description: NT35NE 1 36990 59732
(NT 3699 5973) Borthwick Castle (NR)
OS 6" map (1957)
NT 35NE 1.01 Gate-house
NT 35NE 1.02 Gateway
NT 35NE 1.03 Gate piers
Borthwick Castle, built about 1430, consists of a main block with two wings on the W, and remains substantially in its original state, despite minor modern restoration. It stands within an irregularly-shaped enceinte just over 1/2 acre in extent, originally enclosed by curtain walls, surmounted by a parapet-wall and strengthened in places by circled and salient towers. Grose in 1789, shows an oblong 17th century dovecot projecting from the SE angle of the enceinte. The entrance to the enclosure is modern, but is on the site of the original gateway.
There was a mote-hill on the site, called the mote of Lochorwart, before the present structure, and at the eastern base of the promontory on which it stands, there still remains an 8-10' wide ditch, with a low outer rampart. There is now no trace of the mote-hill, it was presumably levelled when the castle was erected.
RCAHMS 1929, visited 1920.
Borthwick Castle, an outstanding example of a 15th Century tower, is generally as described and planned. No trace of the dovecot survives.
The ditch and rampart at the eastern base of the promontory is now visible as a terrace averaging about 4.0m wide x 1.3m high.
Revised at 25".
Visited by OS (RD) 17 February 1970.
NMRS REPORT DATE: 18/05/2004
NT35NE 1 36990 59732
Owner: Major Borthwick of Borthwick.
NMRS Print Room:
W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection, accession no 1997/39.
2 views of the towers.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
Uncatalogued manuscripts of General Hutton, no 26, sketch dated 1781.
NMRS REPORT DATE: 18/05/2004 Historic Scotland Listed Building Ref: 1103/29/-
Historic Scotland Listed Building Description: Circa 1430. U plan keep within courtyard. 3 storey and basement main block with 2 6 storey and basement wings. Grey coursed ashlar. Splayed base course; chamfered reveals; machicolated parapet with bartizans on external angles. Outer walls, gatehouse and parapet restored by John Watherston and Sons circa 1892.
W ELEVATION: slightly asymmetrical; 3 bays with 2 projecting wings to outer left and right; irregular fenestration to outer bays, inside returns blank; roughly regular fenestration to central recessed bay.
S ELEVATION: irregular fenestration.
E ELEVATION: irregular fenestration; some stonework missing from upper floors (see Notes); parapet and angle bartizans removed.
N ELEVATION: asymmetrical; round arched doorway at ground leading to basement; boarded timber door; quarter turn stone stair to principal entrance at 1st floor; 3 storey square plan harled tower to angle of stair; modern single storey, 4 bay snecked rubble addition with slate roof to W of tower; round arched doorway to 1st floor; boarded timber door with decorative ironwork; blank niche above; irregular fenestration; iron balcony to large window to left of upper floor.
Slit windows, some enlarged. Stone slab roof to main block, grey slate roofs to wings and cap houses behind parapet, (restored 1892-1914). Variety of ashlar stacks behind parapet.
OUTER WALLS AND GATEHOUSE: roughly triangular outer wall, mainly rebuilt in 1892. Rubble with semi circular coping. Base of wall to W original with wide mouthed gun ports. Circular tower to SW angle; original understoreys with horizontal gun ports; upper storey 1892, reached by steps within courtyard. Round arched gateway with machicolated parapet, adjacent to SW tower, on W wall, 1892, on site of original. Wall swept down to S. Doorway with iron door to N.
INTERIOR: Main Range: 3 transverse tunnel vaults at base comprising basement and upper basement; pointed vault above comprising Great Hall: 15th century wall piscina with carved canopy to right of N screen wall; round arched doorway to left leading to stair to 1892 timber mezzanine above; fireplace to S of hall with carved lintel supported by double engaged columns with carved capitals; armorial shield set in pyramidal hood reading "1913"; depressed arched buffet or seat recess to left of W wall with 15th century carved canopy. Tunnel vault above great hall divided into 2 storeys: lower comprising drawing room with grand fireplace and chapel with round arched oratory recess containing locker and piscina; vaulted room above; stair in NE corner of main range. N and S wings: turnpike service stairs in walls of re entrant angles; primarily service quarters and bedrooms; well in basement of S jamb, prison in N jamb, with kitchen above.
Historic Scotland Listed Building Notes: An extremely good example of a complete 15th century Scottish Keep. Built by Sir William Borthwick, who bought the estate, including the Mote of Lochorwart, from the Hays of Lochorwart (now Loquhariot, the name of a nearby farm), He was granted a royal charter to build the castle on 2 June 1430, thus it replaced the now demolished Catcune Castle (situated near Harvieston House) as the Borthwick family seat. It is thought that there was originally a mote hill on the site, which must have been levelled for the present castle, which was built on the site of the bailey. Around 1892 the gate was replaced because it was too low for modern vehicles and the gatehouse was raised one floor. There was once an oblong dovecot (17th century) projecting from the south east angle of the curtain wall, and also a tower mid way along the south wall. The north section of the courtyard would have probably contained stables and outbuildings. The interior of the castle remains with little alteration, although the rooms such as the great hall would originally have been plastered and colourfully painted with allegorical scenes and motifs, inscriptions in this case including "ye tempil of honour" and "ye tempil of religion" which no longer remain. The castle has had a very colourful social history. The unusual U plan of the building seems to have provided more than just additional accommodation. In 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Bothwell fled here from Holyroodhouse after he had killed her husband, and when their hiding place was discovered she is said to have escaped dressed as a man. There are several possibilities for the large gash in the east wall of the castle, from simple decay, which seems unlikely when the good condition of the remainder of the building is considered, to the suggestion that circa 1650 the 10th Lord Borthwick refused to leave the castle when requested to do so by Oliver Cromwell, the damage which still remains being the result. As a result of this no member of the Borthwick family inhabited the castle until 1810 when J. Borthwick of Crookston bought it back, however it was not until the end of the 19th century (see above) that the restoration began. The secure nature of Borthwick has even been of use in the 20th century as it was used as a store for national treasures during the Second World War. Since 1973 the castle has been used as a hotel.
Historic Scotland Listed Building References: J Sinclair, THE STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1792), p633; THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1845), Vol 1, p156, 163-170, 171 172; 1st (1852) and 2nd (1892) Edition OS Maps; F H Groome, (ed), ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND, (1882), Vol 1, p178; D MacGibbon & T Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, Vol 1, p344 352, figs 295 303; T Ross, "Borthwick Castle", TRANSACTIONS OF THE EDINBURGH ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION, (1905), Vol 3, p53 60; "Borthwick Church and Castle", TRANSACTIONS OF THE SCOTTISH ECCLESIOLOGICAL SOCIETY, (1921 1922), Vol 7, pt 1, p39 44; The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments & Constructions of Scotland, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTIES OF MIDLOTHIAN AND WEST LOTHIAN, (1929), p3 8, ill p4, fig 30, 31, p6, fig 32; S Cruden, THE SCOTTISH CASTLE, (1960), p131 136, ill fig 13, pl 20; S Forman, "Borthwick Castle: the most complete 15th century Tower in Scotland", SCOTTISH FIELD, (May 1966), co 113, no 761, p 41 43; C McWilliam, THE BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: LOTHIAN EXCEPT EDINBURGH, (1978), p118 121; H Kirkland, THE THIRD STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1985), p219; R Fawcett, THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY OF SCOTLAND 1371-1560, (1994), p258 261, figs 8.1l, 8.19 & 8.20; J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE, (RIAS), (1995), p111, 119 120; I Gow, SCOTTISH HOUSES AND GARDENS, (Country Life), (1997), p18 19; NMRS, various illustrations, plans; LOANHEAD LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARY, Borthwick Castle File; A Fraser, MIDLOTHIAN: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT TO 1955, p21 23.
- For more information contact: MidLothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Bibliographic reference: Strutt and Parker. 1984. Borthwick Castle, near Edinburgh: [sale particulars].
- Bibliographic reference: Pennant, T. 1776. A Tour in Scotland; MDCCLXXII Part 2. vol 2, p.260.
- Bibliographic reference: Borthwick, H. 1912. 'Borthwick Castle', Trans Edinburgh Architect Ass Vol. 7 1912, p.80-4.
- Bibliographic reference: Ross, T. 1905g. 'Borthwick Castle', Trans Edinburgh Architect Ass Vol. 3 1905, p.53-60. 53-60.
- Bibliographic reference: MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. 1887-92. The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. vol. 1, p.344.
- Bibliographic reference: Forman, S. 1966a. 'Borthwick Castle: the most complete 15th century tower in Scotland', Scot Fld Vol. 113 Part 761 1966, p.41-3. 41-3.
- Bibliographic reference: Burke, J B. 1854. A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1929. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Tenth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Midlothian and West Lothian. 3-8, No.3. fig.29?
- Bibliographic reference: Forman, S. 1967. Scottish country houses and castles. 65-7.
- Bibliographic reference: Hill, O. 1948b. 'Two Scottish Border strongholds: Borthwick Castle, Midlothian: Hermitage Castle, Roxburghshire', Country Life Vol. 104 Part 2687, p.126-9.
- Bibliographic reference: Views in the Lothians. 'Views in the Lothians', p.65. p.22/28 & 103.
- Bibliographic reference: Amateur, An. 1819. Scenery and antiquities of Mid-Lothian, drawn and etched by an amateur. opp p.18.
- Bibliographic reference: Edinburgh Architectural Association. 1882. Sketch Book 1880-81 Vol. 3 1880-2.
- Bibliographic reference: Lawrence, S. 1995. Impressive cuisine is helping to lose Borthwick its 'medieval banquet' image [Borthwick Castle, nescutting], The Scotsman.
- Bibliographic reference: Hannon, T. 1928. 'Famous Scottish Houses', p.77-80. p37.
- Bibliographic reference: Coventry, M. 2001. The castles of Scotland, 3rd edition. 95.
- Bibliographic reference: Bailey, H. 1970. Borthwick Castle, its place in history, .
- : Sager, P. 1980. Schottland: Geschichte und Literatur, Architektur und Landschaft,, Koln.
- Bibliographic reference: Weaver, L. 1913b. 'Borthwick Castle, Midlothian', Country Life Vol. 33 Part 856, p.778-85.