Borthwick Castle


Borthwick castle was built in the 15th century around the time of 1430. The name Borthwick Castle was taken from its creator Sir William Borthwick and today the castle still remains in the Borthwick family. It lies in the valley of the Gore Water two miles south-east of Gorebridge, located in Midlothian.

Today the castle reaches up to a near 100 foot in height, has a width of 74 foot and a breadth of 68 foot. It is one of the largest and best preserved castles in Scotland, although it contains a large cannon scar at the hands of a siege that took place earlier in time (1650) but the rest of the castle stays in good condition.

The castle provided a strong defence with its height giving a great view and advantage for stationed troops, it originally had a moat around the castle that slowed down attacker’s access and the castles thick walls were made to withstand powerfully artillery fire for which it did in the 1650 siege (the damage still remains) by Oliver Cromwell.

Mary Queen of Scots

In 1567 Mary Queen of Scots visited Borthwick castle with James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell who she had recently married and made the Duke of Orkney. They visited the castle under the keeper, the 6th Lord Borthwick. At their stay at the castle Bothwell’s haters came to know of his whereabouts at Borthwick castle and came in force to apprehend him. Fortunately for Bothwell he was informed of their upcoming and he managed to get away in time, only to leave Mary Queen of Scots at Borthwick castle, presumably thinking that she was in no danger. Acknowledging her husband’s retreat Mary decided to try and flee to Bothwell as she dressed up as a page one night, slipped out of a window of the castle on rope and made her way on foot to Cakemuir Castle located 3 miles away of Borthwick castle.

Oliver Cromwell – 1650 Siege

Oliver Cromwell played the part of assailant in the 1650 siege of Borthwick castle. When the 18th of November came around he decided to sent Lord Borthwick a letter stating if he left the castle he would have no harm come to him an could leave with all his possessions. The letter also stated if Lord Borthwick did not comply, Oliver Cromwell would turn his cannon to the castle and lay siege. After receiving the letter Lord Borthwick did not respond leading Oliver Cromwell to assault the castle with his artillery causing a large dent in the castle. Upon seeing the attack Lord Borthwick decided that discretion would be the better path to take and did so, he left with his wife and family along with all his possessions.


Borthwick castle today still holds the scars of the artillery fire it received from the hands of Oliver Cromwell which provides a great and true insight of historical times. After Oliver Cromwell and his men left the castle it laid abandoned for many years until 1913 where the Borthwick family started to restore the castle. By 1973 the castle was leased from the Borthwick’s and is now used as a hotel.