|James II was only 6 when he was crowned in
1437. Archibald, 5th Earl of Douglas, head of the grand and powerful Black
Douglases was appointed Regent. When he died two years later, two men, Sir
Alexander Livingstone and Sir William Crichton fought to take the place of
They invited the new Earl of Douglas, then only 16 years old, to dine
with his brother and a friend at Edinburgh Castle. At the end of the meal
the head of a black bull was brought to the table, and at this sign all
three were murdered.
This same William Crichton consolidated and extended the late 14th c.
tower into a Tower, Keep and Gatehouse: the blue and orange parts in the
plan. He also built the Collegiate Church about 500 yards East of the
castle, as a place where daily orisons could be sung for the welfare of
Towards the end the century further additions were made; the area
coloured black in the plan.
William, the Third Laird of Crichton, having conspired against James
III in 1483, was besieged at Crichton Castle and forced to flee. King
James gave the castle and its lands to his favourite, Sir John Ramsey, who
he created Lord Bothwell. But he too became involved in treachery and so
Crichton was given to Patrick Hepburn, Lord Hailes who became Earl
Later, on the 10th - 12th January 1562, Mary Queen of Scots was guest
here at the marriage of her half-brother, Lord James Stewart to Lady Janet
Hepburn. The celebretation had been arranged at Crichton by the hot-headed
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell... and future wife of Queen Mary.
On Queen Mary and Bothwell's downfall in 1567, James VI gave Crichton
to Francis, the child of James Stuart and Janet Hepburn, and in honour of
her family name conferred on him the title of Bothwell.
The new Earl of Bothwell, wild and dangerous, was described thus:
"a terror to the most desperate duellists of Europe, and a
subduer of the proudest champions, both Turks and Christians... the
gasconades of France, the rhodomontades of Spain, the fanfaronades of
Italy and braggadocio brags of all other countries"
Francis's frequent travels abroad brought him into contact with the
flourishing of the European Renaissance, and in about 1585 he renovated
Crichton in a stylish and up-to-date manner. (coloured green in the plan)
New kitchens, living quarters, colonades, dining room and withdrawing
rooms were built, as well as a very modern straight stairway with
landings. All these can be seen today at Crichton, and its flamboyant
decorative conceits make it one of the most interesting of Scottish