Castle in Scotland logo

Search for castles in Scotland

Scottish Castles

Bullet Point Aberdeenshire
Bullet Point Angus and Dundee
Bullet Point Argyll and Bute
Bullet Point Ayrshire and Arran
Bullet Point Dumfries and Galloway
Bullet Point Edinburgh and the Lothians
Bullet Point Fife
Bullet Point Glasgow and Clyde Valley
Bullet Point Hebrides and Isles
Bullet Point Highlands
Bullet Point Perthshire
Bullet Point Scottish Borders
Bullet Point Stirlingshire

Local information

Accommodation in Scottish Borders
Scottish Borders Council
Scottish Borders Transport

Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders

Location: Lauder, Berwickshire, TD2 6RU (map and directions)

Originally constructed in the 13th century, Thirlestane Castle is set on the aptly named Castle Hill in the Scottish Borders town of Lauder, 28 miles south of Edinburgh. The castle served as the seat of the Earls and Duke of Lauderdale, and as a result played a very central role in the history of Scotland.

Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders copyright Jo Turner
Thirlestane Castle © Jo Turner

History of Thirlestane Castle

The original castle was built atop Castle Hill in order to defend the southern approach to Edinburgh through Lauderdale. The property was then passed on to Robert Lauder in the 16th century who passed it on to his daughter Alison and her husband George Wedderhede. The couple, along with their son, were all killed in feuds, and so the castle was passed back to her living mother, Alison Crauston. When she died, Thirlestane was passed on to her grandchildren, who sold Castle Hill on 27 January 1587 to the Maitland family.

During the 16th century, the Maitland family were both powerful and influential. This came as a result of their military service, contribution to law and the arts and the fact that William Maitland of Lethington was Secretary to Mary Queen of Scots and that his younger brother, Sir John Maitland, was Secretary of Scotland. It was Sir John who acquired the property in 1587, before he was appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland in 1590. The new property was purchased to replace the crumbling structure one mile to the south known at that time as Thirlestane.

The power of the Maitland family continued through the 1600s, with John Maitland appointed Secretary of State for Scotland in 1660. It was after this time that architect Sir William Bruce was hired to transform the castle into a residence, and so additions included two front towers, a grand staircase, lavish staterooms, and plasterwork ceilings. Many windows were added to lighten the space, sometimes in walls that were over 13ft thick.

Thirlestane Castle, Scottish Borders copyright Martin Thirkettle
Thirlestane Castle © Martin Thirkettle

One of the rooms renovated during this time is now known as the Bonnie Prince Charlie room, as the prince stayed here, with his Jacobite army camped on the parkland, on their way to England in 1745.

In 1840, architects David Bryce and William Burn extended the castle by adding two wings, constructed around a central courtyard, plus new kitchens, pantries, laundries and servants quarters.

However, when Captain Gerald Maitland-Carew inherited the castle in 1972 from his grandmother Ethel, Countess of Lauderdale, Thirlestane was in serious disrepair. So much so that in 1984 the castle was gifted to a charity who, assisted by financial grants by Historic Buildings Council and National Heritage fund, renovated Thirlestane Castle.

Map and directions

Thirlestane Castle and the grounds are open to visitors from April to September daily. Opening times at Thirlestane are varied.

View Thirlestane Castle in a larger map

Other castles in Scottish Borders

Bullet Point Ayton Castle
Bullet Point Branxholme Castle
Bullet Point Cessford Castle
Bullet Point Dryhope Tower
Bullet Point Duns Castle
Bullet Point Fast Castle
Bullet Point Fatlips Castle
Bullet Point Ferniehirst Castle
Bullet Point Floors Castle
Bullet Point Greenknowe Tower
Bullet Point Hermitage Castle
Bullet Point Hume Castle
Bullet Point Kirkhope Tower
Bullet Point Neidpath Castle
Bullet Point Nether Horsburgh Castle
Bullet Point Newark Castle
Bullet Point Nisbet House
Bullet Point Smailholm Tower
Bullet Point Thirlestane Castle
Bullet Point Traquair House
Bullet Point Venlaw Castle
Bullet Point Wedderburn Castle

Aberdeenshire | Angus & Dundee | Argyll & Bute | Ayrshire & Arran | Dumfries & Galloway | Edinburgh & the Lothians | Fife | Glasgow & Clyde Valley | Hebrides & Isles | Highlands | Perthshire | Scottish Borders | Stirlingshire
Home | Contact | Sitemap 2010