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Preston of Gorton & Criagmillar, Simon - Armorial Panel 1374 approx
Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh

Photographed: John A. Duncan of Sketraw (7/05/07)

Craigmillar Castle is one of the best preserved castles in Scotland. It was begun in the early 15th century by the Preston family, who had acquired the lands of Craigmillar in 1374. Sir Simon Preston was a staunch supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots and a member of her Privy Council. In 1477 James III imprisoned his brother John, Earl of Mar, in one of its cellars where he died. The earliest part is the lofty L-shaped tower, housing the laird's main accommodation. A little later, the castle was enlarged by the building of a great enclosure wall with round towers projecting at the corners. These tower bristle with gun-loops. Ranges of buildings lined the inside of the wall, adding greatly to the accommodation. A spacious open courtyard lay at the centre. Attractive gardens and a fish-pond surrounded the castle.

In the 16th century the east range was rebuilt, possibly after the burning of the castle by the English in 1544. After the murder of her secretary, David Rizzio, at Holyrood in 1566, Mary Queen of Scots sought the peace and quiet of Craigmillar. It was here in that same year that the famous "bond" was signed between the Earl of Bothwell and other noblemen which led to the murder of Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley.
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