Several miles east of the village of Innerwick, near Dunbar in East
Lothian, perched on top of a sandstone outcrop, overhanging the
Thorton ravine stands the vaulted basements of Innerwick castle. The
present ruin dates from the 1400's and 1500's and was a keep with an
outer courtyard wall, with a gradual infill of additional buildings
as time went on. The original castle site though dates back to the
mid 1300's when it was built for the Stewarts. In 1398,the castle
passed to the Hamiltons, ancestors of the Earls of Haddington.
In 1403 Innerwick was besieged by the English knight 'Hotspur'
Percy and Archibald 4th Earl of Douglas, a Scot held by the Percies
since the defeat of the Scots army at the battle of Homildon Hill,
near Wooler, in 1402. However the siege of Innerwick and it's near
neighbour Cocklaws tower, a Gladstone house, proved to be a mock
affair and a smoke screen, for when the Duke of Albany arrived with
a large Scots army to save Innerwick and Cocklaws, Percy and Douglas
had headed south-west to contact Douglas vassals and march on Wales.
Percy, Douglas and his men were now in league with Owen of Glendower
in open revolt against King Henry IV of England (1399-1413). But at
the battle of Shrewsbury 'Hotspur' was killed, Douglas retaken
captive and the rebels defeated.
In 1547 Innerwick was
attacked by the English during the wars of the 'Rough Wooing'. This
was where the English insisted by force that the child Mary Queen of
Scots (1542-1587) be married to the English Prince Edward.
One English force attacked Thornton castle, a Home stronghold,
directly across the ravine from Innerwick. While a separate English
unit of hakbutters (an early type of rife) besieged Innerwick
itself. The Master of Hamilton and eight other gentlemen barricaded
the doors and defended from the battlements. Part of the castle was
set ablaze and the hakbutters entered by storm, killing eight of the
defenders on the spot; the ninth jumped from the castle battlements
much to the disbelief of onlookers falling some 60 to 70ft. into the
ravine and river below. The English commander conducting the siege
of Innerwick was so impressed by this feat of daring that he called
for the man's life to be spared. However, as he made his way
upstream he was shot dead by the other English force attacking
Thorton castle. Following this Thornton was demolished and Innerwick
The castle of Innerwick can't have been
completely destroyed as it was being used by Scots horsemen, in
1650,as a base to attack Cromwell's supply lines, in conjunction
with the raids made by the 'desperado gallants' of
near North Berwick and the 'moss troopers' of
Dirleton castle. It
appears though that Innerwick was 'quitted' by the Scots as only
Tantallon and Dirleton are recorded as being bombarded and stormed
in letters of the time.
The occupation of the Lothians by
Cromwell, and his systematic destruction of castles therein, proved
that the days of the mighty stone castle was over. Modern cannon
could fell any monument great or small. For this reason from the
1650's onwards castles were no longer repaired or rebuilt as the
expense made it a futile exercise. Innerwick like so many other
castles fell the fate of being viewed as the local quarry.
Contributed by Andrew Spratt
See: Dunbars Vs Douglas
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