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Borthwick Castle, Edinburgh and the Lothians

Location: North Middleton, Midlothian, EH23 4QY (map and directions)

One of the largest and most well-preserved medieval Scottish fortifications, Borthwick Castle is a twin-towered fortress located just east of the village of Borthwick, 12 miles southeast of Edinburgh.

Borthwick Castle, Edinburgh & The Lothians copyright Stephen Samson
Borthwick Castle © Stephen Samson

History of Borthwick Castle

A charter to build the castle was awarded to Sir William de Borthwick by King James I in thanks for his part in bringing the king home to Scotland after 18 years imprisonment in England. The castle was built as a major fortress, and includes 100 ft walls, 20 ft at their base. The castle was designed in a defensive U shape to protect the towers and originally had a moat as well. Though built as a defensive structure, the castle was also the Borthwick family home and was built for entertaining as well, with grand fireplaces and a gorgeous great hall.

Mary Queen of Scots visited Borthwick in 1563 and 1567, when she took protection under 6th Lord Borthwick, later escaping the castle disguised as a page.

In 1650 Oliver Cromwell attacked Borthwick Castle, and the castle was surrendered very shortly after, and remained more or less abandoned until it was restored in 1914. During the Second World War Borthwick Castle was used as a hiding place to store national treasures.

In 1973 the castle was leased from the family and converted into a hotel.

Map and directions

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