About the Castle
This magnificent 600-year old castle, known as "Scotland's Greatest Keep", is a phenomenal structure consisting of some 30,000 tons of Ashlar Stone, which was quarried in the local town of Middleton.
Borthwick Castle was built in 1430 by Sir William de Borthwick, who was granted a royal charter by King James I of Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle in June 1567, not long after her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell; Lord Darnley having been murdered in February of that year. The couple had not been at the castle long before word came out that Lord Morton and Lord Lennox were advancing on the castle with a thousand men, intending to take Bothwell by force so that he might be brought to a proper trial for Darnley's murder. On hearing this, Bothwell left for Dunbar to raise an army, leaving Mary to face the insurgent lords. She refused to let Bothwell be incriminated and told the army surrounding the castle that he had left. While they were re-appraising the situation, she escaped through a narrow window in the Great Hall, disguised as a page boy and rode off from Borthwick Church to rejoin Bothwell.
The Great Hall has a 40 foot vaulted ceiling. Above this there is a second chamber of almost the same height with a rounded vault, which is currently divided into two levels. The walls were hung with tapestries and the ceiling was painted with frescoes. One can still make out the phrase 'ye tempil of honour' on the west side, although on the east the phrase 'ye tempil of religion' is now indecipherable.