Hawthornden Castle is located on the River North Esk in Midlothian,
Scotland. The castle lies a mile to the east of Roslin at grid reference
NT287637, and is just downstream from Roslin Castle. Hawthornden comprises
a 15th century ruin, with a 17th century L-plan house attached. The house
has been restored and now serves as a writer's retreat. Man-made caves in
the rock beneath the castle have been in use for much longer than the
Hawthornden was a property of the Abernethy family
from the 13th century, and passed to the Douglases in the 14th century.
The earliest parts of the castle date from the 15th century, and include a
large three-storey tower, and the south curtain wall of a triangular
courtyard. The castle was sacked twice by the Earl of Hertford in 1544 and
1547 during The Rough Wooing.
In the 16th century, the castle was
sold to Sir John Drummond, one of King James VI's ushers. His son, the
poet Sir William Drummond of Hawthornden, was born here, and later
extended the castle. The L-shaped north range is his work, dated 1638, and
probably replaced earlier buildings on this side of the courtyard. He was
visited here in 1618 by English poet Ben Jonson, and the following century
Dr Johnson also visited Hawthornden.
This house has been much
altered, including a major modernisation of the mid-19th century. The arms
of the Abernethy family were installed above a door in 1795, by Dr William
Abernethy Drummond, Bishop of Edinburgh. The bishop also added a memorial
in honour of his ancestors Sir William Drummond and Sir Lawrence Abernethy
Hawthornden Castle was owned by the Drummonds until
the 1970s, when it was sold to Drue Heinz, the widow H. J. Heinz II.
Architects Simpson and Brown undertook a restoration of the castle in the
1980s, and the owner now allows writers to use it as a retreat. Recent
restoration work has used reclaimed stone available from the
now-demolished Caledonian Railway station in Edinburgh.
is a Category A listed building, and the castle and caves together are a
Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The castle comprises a roughly
triangular courtyard, approximately 24m long and 12m at its widest point,
projecting north-west along a rocky promontory on the south bank of the
River Esk. The 15th century tower is situated at the south-east corner.
Around 8m square, the tower is ruined, although the recent renovation
included the installation of a library in the tower basement. There is
also a rib-vaulted pit prison beneath the tower. Windows on the south
curtain wall show that a range of buildings once stood here, although
these are now all gone. A well in the west end of the courtyard supplied
the castle's water.
The 16th century range is to the north, and is
linked to the tower by a 16th century wall, in which is the entrance. The
range is of three storeys and an attic, and was originally harled. The
renaissance-style doorway is of later date, as is the iron knocker with
the initials of Sir William Drummond (the son of the poet) and his wife,
Dame Barbara Scott. There are three gunports around the doorway, with a
fourth in the tower. The last addition to the castle was a single-storey
range to the west, built in the late 18th or early 19th century.
There are a number of man-made caves in the cliffs beneath the castle. One
cave serves as a doocot, with 370 compartments. There is a tradition that
King Robert the Bruce and Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie once found
shelter in the caves underneath it.
Another cave nearby is known as
Wallace's Cave, after William Wallace.
Sir John Drummond, the
poet's father, who was second son of Sir Robert Drummond of Carnock,
bought Hawthornden, in the year 1598, from the heirs of Douglas of
Strathbrock, a family which, with many other fair and opulent possessions,
had held Hawthornden for more than two centuries.
It is thought that the Douglases
that owned Hawthornden from 1388 until 1598 (when it was sold
to Drummond) were descendants of the
Douglases of Strathbrock.
The progenitor of the Strathbrock branch was John Douglas, a son of
John Douglas (brother of William the Knight of Liddesdale), and brother of
Henry of Lugton.
|Hawthornden in 1789