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Luffness Castle



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Luffness Castle reconstruction by Andrew Spratt

Luffness Castle, sometimes known as Luffness House or Aberlady Castle, is a castle of 13th-century origin in Luffness, not far from Aberlady, in East Lothian, Scotland. The castle is historically part of the entail of the Earls of Hopetoun.

There is evidence of a permanent Viking camp at this site.

It is believed that the original castle was a significant fortress, founded by the Gospatrick Earls of Dunbar and March. Its position allowed it to protect landings in Aberlady Bay, and Haddington, which lies a few miles inland. On the death of the crusading eighth earl, the property was presented to the church, so that a Carmelite friary was founded in the ground in 1293.

The French built a fort around the castle in 1549 as defence against the English, and it was successful in impeding them for a time in the War of the Rough Wooing. Mary of Guise ordered its destruction in 1552 as part of the peace arrangements, at the insistence of the Earl of Hertford.

After the Reformation Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton acquired the property, and the Hepburn Earls of Bothwell gained possession in due time. Mary, Queen of Scots, visited Luffness in the company of her third husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell.

It was purchased for £8,350 in 1739 by the 1st Earl of Hopetoun, whose family owns it still.

The house, which lies in a wooded estate not far from Aberlady Bay, is now a T-plan building, incorporating the 16th-century tower house. It was added to and altered in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. A moat, earthworks, a stair-tower, gun-loops, and a turret remain from earlier periods.

The walled fruit garden was built by Prisoners of War of the Napoleonic Wars.

A Carmelite friary [NT 471801] was built nearby in 1293, some fragments of which survive, including the stone effigy and burial slab of a man in armour, in an overgrown woodland setting.

This knight’s tomb, a well-worn effigy of a medieval nobleman lying under a pointed arch. The identity of the subject is long forgotten, although local tradition claims that it is one Bickerton, a standard bearer to Sir William Douglas(1) who turned traitor on his master at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 and later met a grisly end. Others say it is Henry de Pinkey, a local landowner who supported Robert the Bruce during the famous Wars of Independence in the early 14th Century. Whoever he was, the wide cracks in the tomb reveal that his mortal remains are now long-gone.  Photo and story:

See: Dunbars Vs Douglas



1.  It was James, 2nd Earl of Douglas who fought and died at Otterburn. But let's not spoil a good story.

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Last modified: Sunday, 02 June 2019