Craignethan Castle Historic Environment Scotland
Scotland’s last great private stronghold perched on the Nethan Gorge
Opening times: 1 April - 30 September: 9:30am - 5:30pm, daily / 1 October - 31 March: closed
Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
Child (5-15): £3.00
Child (Under 5): Free
Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Concession price: this applies if you can show proof that you’re aged 60+ or unemployed.
Admission prices are subject to change.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of the Clyde Valley between Upper and Lower Nethan Gorges, Craignethan Castle is an extraordinary residential tower and fortification, and the supposed inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s Tillietudlem Castle.
It was built by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, eldest son of the 1st Earl of Arran, who had spent his early years abroad, acquiring unusual knowledge of architecture and fortification. He supervised royal building works at Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle and elsewhere, but his most inspired creation was his own extraordinary fortified residence, way ahead of its time, at Craignethan Castle.
Craignethan Castle at night. Copyright Kieran Harris
For a time, Hamilton of Finnart was head of the second most powerful family in Scotland after the royal Stewarts. He became one of the biggest and richest landowners in southern Scotland with great political standing. However, he was executed by James V in 1540, after the king became convinced that he was plotting against him.
His legitimate half-brother, Lord James the 2nd Earl and future Regeant, became Lord of Craignethan. The Hamiltons asserted themselves in the political and military crises of the Protestant Reformation, supporting Mary Queen of Scots until her death - sheltering her at Craignethan Castle prior to her defeat at the Battle of Langside in 1568.
For more information on opening times, directions, history and events, visit the Historic Environment Scotland website. Please note that car parking is for visitors only. Why not combine your trip with a visit to the stunning woodlands of Upper Nethan Gorge and Lower Nethan Gorge?