Craigmillar Castle is a ruined medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is situated 3 miles (4.8 km) south-east of the city centre, on a low hill to the south of the modern suburb of Craigmillar. It was begun in the late 14th century by the Preston family, feudal barons of Craigmillar, and extended through the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1660 the castle was sold to Sir John Gilmour, Lord President of the Court of Session, who made further alterations. The Gilmours left Craigmillar in the 18th century, and the castle fell into ruin. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.
Craigmillar Castle is best known for its association with Mary, Queen of Scots. Following an illness after the birth of her son, the future James I of England, Mary arrived at Craigmillar on 20 November 1566 to convalesce. Before she left on 7 December 1566, a pact known as the “Craigmillar Bond” was made, with or without her knowledge, to dispose of her husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.
Craigmillar is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland.The central tower house, or keep, is surrounded by a 15th-century courtyard wall with “particularly fine” defensive features. Within this are additional ranges, and the whole is enclosed by an outer courtyard wall containing a chapel and a doocot.
The former fish pond, shaped like a letter P for Preston, is a nationally-significant archaeological garden feature, due to its rarity. In the 1820s, a plan was drawn up to lay out picturesque landscape gardens between Inch House and the castle, which would have incorporated “Queen Mary’s Tree”, a Sycamore supposedly planted by Mary, Queen of Scots. Much of the woodland within the castle estate dates from the early to mid 19th century.
The castle became a popular tourist attraction from the late 18th century, and was drawn by numerous artists. A proposal to renovate the building for the use of Queen Victoria was put forward in 1842, but came to nothing. Victoria herself visited the castle in 1886, and much restoration work was undertaken by its then owner, Walter James Little Gilmour (d.1887).
Craigmillar Castle has been in state care since 1946, and is now maintained by Historic Scotland. The castle is a category A listed building,the highest level of protection for a historic building in Scotland, and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The grounds of the castle are included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, the national register of historic gardens.
Craigmillar Castle, engraved by W. Miller after J.M.W. Turner (1836).and is in Public Domain…