Written for Associated Content and published 08/04/10.
Despite having a notably tumultuous history, Bothwell Castle is the finest and largest 13th century castle in Scotland. Although its location now seems an unlikely spot, at the time it stood next to the main crossing point on the Clyde. This gave the castle considerable strategic value during the Wars of Independence, leading to it spending a lot of time under siege or in enemy hands during this period.
Design of the Castle
Walter of Moray began work on the castle around 1242 and his son William continued it. The original grand design of the castle is thought to have been modelled on Councy-le-Chateau in northern France, the tower design in both places being strikingly similar. Although only the great Donjon (circular keep) was completed by the time the Wars of Independence stopped the work, the Donjon remains as one of the finest examples of medieval military architecture in Scotland.
The donjon possesses some beautifully worked arches, doorways and window mouldings, a product of the original plan to make the castle the most beautiful in all Christendom. Many of the finest masons in Europe were brought in to work on it and the quality of their work is still evident even after the intervening centuries.
Home of the Black Douglas
After the damage sustained during the wars Bothwell Castle was abandoned until 1362 when the heir Jennifer Moray married Archibald ‘The Grim’ of the Black Douglases. They made the castle their home, repairing the Donjon and rebuilding the rest of the castle to their own design, adding the chapel and great hall, which survive to this day as an excellent example of later medieval architecture.
The Black Douglases were overthrown during the reign of James II and the castle changed hands several times between 1455 and 1492 when the Red Douglases acquired it. However, the castle’s days as fortress-residence were numbered and by the end of the 1600s the castle was abandoned and in ruins. In 1935 the castle was given into state care by the then Earl and is now maintained by Historic Scotland.
Getting There and Visiting Bothwell Castle
Situated on the outskirts of Uddingston, on a curve in the River Clyde, Bothwell Castle is approximately a mile from the town centre along Castle Avenue.
To reach the town by car take the M73 (Glasgow to Carlisle), leave the motorway at A8 and follow signs for Uddingston (A752), once there, leave Main Street at Bellshill Avenue and follow Castle Avenue to the castle. By public transport there are regular buses (no 255, alight at Uddingston Cross) and trains (every 30mins, train station just along Main Street from Castle Avenue) from Glasgow.
1st April – 30th September: Daily – 9.30am to 5.30pm.
1st October – 31st October: Daily – 9.30am to 4.30pm.
1st November – 31st March: Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun – 9.30am to 4.30pm.
Thu, Fri – Closed.
Adult – £ 3.70
Child – £3.20
Concessions – £ 3.00