Borthwick Castle offers a hidden world of luxury and majestic style, steeped in 600 years of dramatic Scottish history. Tel: +44(0)1875 820514
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History of Borthwick Castle

Borthwick Castle Drawing One of the finest and best preserved 15th century keeps in Scotland. Borthwick Castle Mary Queen of Scots Mary Queen of Scots Borthwick Castle - Olver Cromwell Painting Oliver Cromwell


For 600 years Borthwick castle has played its part in Scotland’s history, witnessing key moments in the lives of famous historical figures including Mary, Queen Of Scots and Oliver Cromwell

Borthwick Castle is considered one of the finest and best preserved 15th century keeps in Scotland.

An imposing fortress composed of a massive double tower surrounded by an embattled wall, it is much admired for the beauty of its proportions as well as the solidity and accuracy of its masonry.

The castle sits on a knoll the Mote of Lochwart - at the centre of a small but well cultivated valley, well positioned to guard the road south to the Borders from Edinburgh.


The Castle was built in 1430 by the nobleman Sir William de Borthwick. He had volunteered to be a substitute hostage in the ransom of King James I of Scotland in 1425. In response the King gifted Borthwick a special licence to build a castle, to surround the same with walls and ditches, and to defend it with gates of brass or iron; and place upon the summit battlements and turrets.

The Tower is 90 feet in height, with walls some 15 feet in thickness towards the foundations. A small river called the Gore surrounds the Castle and contributes to its romantic appearance. The battlements of Borthwick Castle also command some of the most beautiful views in the area.

The interior of Borthwick Castle has seen little structural alteration over the years. The Great Hall is on the first storey and is 40 feet long, with a music gallery perched above and a lofty roof. The roof and walls would once have been adorned with colourful paintings, motifs and inscriptions


On 11th June, a number of Scottish barons together with a 1000-strong army on horseback, surrounded Borthwick Castle intent on capturing Mary Queen of Scotland and her husband the Earl of Bothwell who had fled to the castle for sanctuary after being accused of murdering May’s second husband, Lord Darnley.


One of Borthwick Castles most dramatic features is a huge gouge in the East wall. Historians believe this was damage created in 1650 by Oliver Cromwell who tried to besiege the castle as his Parliamentarian forces marched through Scotland en route to Edinburgh.


Major renovation work was carried out to the in 1913. The secure nature of Borthwick continued to be of use in the 20th century when during the Second World War it was used as a safe store for the country's national treasures. In 1973 the castle was converted to a conference centre and then a hotel. After a major refurbishment in 2013, including the addition of biomass heating centre, and breathtaking luxurious furnishings, the castle now stands as a warm homely yet imposing retreat for all year use.

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Borthwick Castle, North Middleton, EH23 4qY      Tel: +44(0)1875 820514
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