Yesterday we were in Edinburgh so decided to visit Craigmillar Castle. It was a dull day, but it was an interesting wander around the ruins.
I say ruins, but there is a large chunk of this castle still standing. It is said to be the best preserved medieval castle in Scotland.
Currently owned and run by Historic Scotland, it was originally built by the Preston family around the 15th century.
The first records for the Craigmillar lands show it as being part of the property owned by Dunfermline Abbey. King David II granted it to the Preston family during his reign.
The castle is maybe best known for the stay of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1566, shortly after the birth of James, her son, who would later become James VI and I of england. While there, some of her Lords agreed a covenant to rid themselves of her husband, Lord Darnley, by ‘whatever means’. One of these Lords was Bothwell, who would later become the third husband of Mary.
It is not clear whether Mary knew of this agreement or agreed to it herself, but relations between her and Darnley were quite frosty at this stage and strong suspicion fell upon her, when the agreement was exposed after the death of Darnley.
Earlier in the castle’s history, during the ‘rough wooing’ that I wrote about in my first book, Craigmillar was set ablaze by Edward Seymour on the orders of Henry VIII.
The castle itself sits on a rock, looking across the countryside for miles. It is a beautiful place to stand and look around.
I am no expert on the way it was built and what was built when, but it is certainly a place worth visiting, plenty of space for the little ones to run around and explore, and plenty of history to interest the adults.
A special shout out to the young man in the gift shop who chatted to my grumpy, sleepy, toddler daughter and made her smile.