When tourists visit Edinburgh they automatically think about Edinburgh Castle. But there’s other castles nearby too! One of the closest to Edinburgh Castle is Craigmillar. Craigmillar Castle has an important history and even has connections with Mary Queen of Scots.
History Of Craigmillar Castle
Craigmillar was originally a rural retreat a short distance from the capital city. However nowadays it’s part of the city and located just South of Holyrood Park. Surrounding the castle is the old Craigmillar Castle park that is now well used by locals for recreation. In the 1400’s it would have been managed parkland and gardens for the castle owners and guests.
Craigmillar began life as a towerhouse in the 1300’s and one of the earliest of it’s type to be built in Scotland. The castle was added to in the 1400’s and 1600’s to what it now looks like today. Which is a maze of rooms and levels, fantastic for exploring!
On the first floor of the castle is ‘Queen Mary’s room’, which is where Mary Queen of Scot’s was said to have stayed in 1566. However it’s likely she actually had a suite of rooms rather than just one. Sir Simon Preston, the owner of the castle at the time, was a supported of Queen Mary was made to be her jailer for the first night of her capture when she was removed from his townhouse in Edinburgh and taken to Loch Leven Castle the following day.
The castle is also said to be where several lords came up with the plan to murder Mary’s husband Lord Darnley. Although it’s unknown whether Mary was part of this plot or even suspected it existed.
Interesting Features at Craigmillar Castle
There are some interesting features to explore at Craigmillar. When you first arrive through the entrance look out for the amazing Yew trees just inside the castle walls. The age of the trees is unknown, but as Yews can live for hundreds of years it is just possible it was planted when Queen Mary was staying here.
The castle has various nooks and crannies to explore, the giant bread oven being one of the kids favourite places to crawl into! It’s the perfect place for kids to hide in! The tower house itself has walls 3m thick, which is pretty good when you need strong defences! The view from the top of the castle is impressive too!
Out in the gardens you can see the terraces and the old fish pond that was in the shape of the letter P for Preston. The Preston’s being the original owners of the castle, before it was sold to the Gilmour family.
How To Get There
At only 2 miles South of central Edinburgh you can easily drive to here, although parking spaces are very limited. The other option is taking a bus from Edinburgh and alighting at Peffermill Road or Dalkeith Road and walking the short distance up to the castle.
Check out Traveline Scotland for details of buses travelling to this area of Edinburgh.