If there was one castle that played one of the most significant roles in Scottish battle history, it would have to be the Bothwell Castle. Because of its location, both the Scots and English benefited when they were in possession of this site.
A trip to Hamilton, South Lanarkshire will place you closer to the Bothwell Castle, which is considered one of the most inviting castles found in Scotland. Located by the River Clyde, the oldest parts of the castle are rather impressive. Some of the most alluring sandstone , a shade of deep red , has been used to construct this fascinating structure. The masonry work of the castle is also quite a sight.
In history, Bothwell Castle played an important role, as it was situated at a strategic point. For example, invaders hailing from the south would use this site as a major crossing point of the Clyde River. When war emerged between Scotland and England, the castle was used as a pawn. Numerous times, both sides were able to gain and loose possession of the castle , the breaking point of many battles.
Originally, it was Walter of Moray (or quite possibly his son, William the Rich) who was in charge of the construction of the castle. At the time, it was a desire to create one of the most appealing buildings that anyone had ever seen. By the middle of the 1200s, some of the best masons known to continental Europe were called upon to meet the challenge. You can check out the moldings decorating the doorways and windows of the castle to get a picture of the beautiful work associated with the masons of this time period. The arches located in the old tower are another feature to make note of.
Work on the Bothwell Castle hit a snag before it was completed. Some say funds ran scarce, while others blame the wars with Edward I of England as an issue. In 1296, Edward was successful in capturing William and with him came the castle. The Scots laid siege for more than a year in 1298 before the castle was taken back. The castle was lost once more in 1301 when Edward returned with more vengeance.
The English were able to keep it in their grasp until the Battle of Bannockburn became a reality. English lords fled to the castle for safety, but the constable of the castle let go of the fortress and the Scots took over in 1314. It would take 22 years before Edward II led an invasion and captured Bothwell. From then on, he claimed it as the headquarters for his invasion plans. This didn’t last too long, as after a couple of months had passed, Sir Andrew (kin to Walter of Moray) took back the castle. Following Robert Bruce’s wishes to destroy any castles that the English could benefit from if they took control, Andrew took down most of the donjon tower.
As if the tale of Bothwell didn’t have enough owners and history, the Black Douglasses were next to take control over the castle in 1362, when Archibald the Grim became the husband to Joanna of Bothwell. During the late part of the 1300s and early part of the 1400s, the Douglasses spent a great deal of time repairing the castle. The buildings were extended and most of what you see today is due to the effort of this family.