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Borthwick Castle

A Category A Listed Building in Borthwick, Midlothian

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Latitude: 55.8267 / 55°49'36"N

Longitude: -3.0073 / 3°0'26"W

OS Eastings: 336990

OS Northings: 659732

OS Grid: NT369597

Mapcode National: GBR 71F2.Q4

Mapcode Global: WH7VD.ST31

Plus Code: 9C7RRXGV+M3

Entry Name: Borthwick Castle

Listing Name: Borthwick Castle, Including Outer Walls and Gatehouse

Listing Date: 22 January 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 331225

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB805

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Borthwick

County: Midlothian

Electoral Ward: Midlothian South

Parish: Borthwick

Traditional County: Midlothian

Tagged with: Tower house

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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.

Statement of Interest

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.

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