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Craignethan Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Craignethan, a ruined castle or, rather, fortified manor-house, in Lesmahagow parish, Lanarkshire, ½ mile ENE of Tillietudlem station on the Lesmahagow branch of the Caledonian, and 5½ miles WN W of Lanark. It stands on the left bank of the river Nethan, l¼ mile above its influx near Crossford village to the Clyde; and is said to have been rebuilt by the celebrated architect, Sir James Hamilton of Fynnart, commonly known as the Bastard of Arran. He was beheaded in 1540, but three years later the family estates were restored to his son, Sir James Hamilton of Evandale. Popularly idenfied with the ' Tillietudlem' of Old Mortality, Craignethan, to quote James Hunnewell's Lands of Scott (1871), 'is a mere shell and wreck of its former self; yet, like most ruined castles, it is not wanting in picturesqueness and romance. It is approached by a road like that described in the novel-steep, winding, and stony, and leading through a ford of the Nethan. This is a shallow stream, flowing over a rocky bed, and bending around a point that rises, with grey crags and steep, grass or tree clad banks, to a commanding elevation, on which is the castle, built of sandstone, now faded and weather-worn. The extent of Craignethan once was great; even now there is a large garden within its walls. The keep, at the outer or river side, is very ruinous; and indeed the whole structure is much dilapidated, large quantities of materials having been taken from it for the construction of ignoble buildings. But there can still be found in it many picturesque combinations of wall and tower, of stone-arched ceiling, or of broken vaulting, streaming with graceful ivy-sprays, or of shattered battlements, garlanded with shrubbery. A story told of many old residences is told of this: Queen Mary is said to have occupied, during several days before the battle of Langside, a large hall, yet partly existing, and called the Queen's Room. Craignethan has been an important fortress, held by Hamiltons, by Hays, and by Douglases. The scenery around it has some degree of grandeur as well as beauty; and Sir Walter, on his visit in 1799, was so much pleased with the place, that the proprietor offered him use for life of a small house within the walls. I was told that the novel is commemorated here by quite a large periodical festivity, held by the families of farmers and others, and called the Tillietudlem Ball. '-Ord. Sur., sh. 23, 1865. See also J. B. Greenshield's Annals of the Parish of Lesmahagow (Edinb. 1864).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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