Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 36990 59732
336990, 659732


Circa 1430. U plan keep within courtyard. 3 storey and basement main block with 2 6 storey and basement wings. Grey coursed ashlar. Splayed base course; chamfered reveals; machicolated parapet with bartizans on external angles. Outer walls, gatehouse and parapet restored by John Watherston and Sons circa 1892.

W ELEVATION: slightly asymmetrical; 3 bays with 2 projecting wings to outer left and right; irregular fenestration to outer bays, inside returns blank; roughly regular fenestration to central recessed bay.

S ELEVATION: irregular fenestration.

E ELEVATION: irregular fenestration; some stonework missing from upper floors (see Notes); parapet and angle bartizans removed.

N ELEVATION: asymmetrical; round arched doorway at ground leading to basement; boarded timber door; quarter turn stone stair to principal entrance at 1st floor; 3 storey square plan harled tower to angle of stair; modern single storey, 4 bay snecked rubble addition with slate roof to W of tower; round arched doorway to 1st floor; boarded timber door with decorative ironwork; blank niche above; irregular fenestration; iron balcony to large window to left of upper floor.

Slit windows, some enlarged. Stone slab roof to main block, grey slate roofs to wings and cap houses behind parapet, (restored 1892-1914). Variety of ashlar stacks behind parapet.

OUTER WALLS AND GATEHOUSE: roughly triangular outer wall, mainly rebuilt in 1892. Rubble with semi circular coping. Base of wall to W original with wide mouthed gun ports. Circular tower to SW angle; original understoreys with horizontal gun ports; upper storey 1892, reached by steps within courtyard. Round arched gateway with machicolated parapet, adjacent to SW tower, on W wall, 1892, on site of original. Wall swept down to S. Doorway with iron door to N.

INTERIOR: Main Range: 3 transverse tunnel vaults at base comprising basement and upper basement; pointed vault above comprising Great Hall: 15th century wall piscina with carved canopy to right of N screen wall; round arched doorway to left leading to stair to 1892 timber mezzanine above; fireplace to S of hall with carved lintel supported by double engaged columns with carved capitals; armorial shield set in pyramidal hood reading "1913"; depressed arched buffet or seat recess to left of W wall with 15th century carved canopy. Tunnel vault above great hall divided into 2 storeys: lower comprising drawing room with grand fireplace and chapel with round arched oratory recess containing locker and piscina; vaulted room above; stair in NE corner of main range. N and S wings: turnpike service stairs in walls of re entrant angles; primarily service quarters and bedrooms; well in basement of S jamb, prison in N jamb, with kitchen above.

Statement of Special Interest

An extremely good example of a complete 15th century Scottish Keep. Built by Sir William Borthwick, who bought the estate, including the Mote of Lochorwart, from the Hays of Lochorwart (now Loquhariot, the name of a nearby farm), He was granted a royal charter to build the castle on 2 June 1430, thus it replaced the now demolished Catcune Castle (situated near Harvieston House) as the Borthwick family seat. It is thought that there was originally a mote hill on the site, which must have been levelled for the present castle, which was built on the site of the bailey. Around 1892 the gate was replaced because it was too low for modern vehicles and the gatehouse was raised one floor. There was once an oblong dovecot (17th century) projecting from the south east angle of the curtain wall, and also a tower mid way along the south wall. The north section of the courtyard would have probably contained stables and outbuildings. The interior of the castle remains with little alteration, although the rooms such as the great hall would originally have been plastered and colourfully painted with allegorical scenes and motifs, inscriptions in this case including "ye tempil of honour" and "ye tempil of religion" which no longer remain. The castle has had a very colourful social history. The unusual U plan of the building seems to have provided more than just additional accommodation. In 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Bothwell fled here from Holyroodhouse after he had killed her husband, and when their hiding place was discovered she is said to have escaped dressed as a man. There are several possibilities for the large gash in the east wall of the castle, from simple decay, which seems unlikely when the good condition of the remainder of the building is considered, to the suggestion that circa 1650 the 10th Lord Borthwick refused to leave the castle when requested to do so by Oliver Cromwell, the damage which still remains being the result. As a result of this no member of the Borthwick family inhabited the castle until 1810 when J. Borthwick of Crookston bought it back, however it was not until the end of the 19th century (see above) that the restoration began. The secure nature of Borthwick has even been of use in the 20th century as it was used as a store for national treasures during the Second World War. Since 1973 the castle has been used as a hotel.



J Sinclair, THE STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1792), p633; THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1845), Vol 1, p156, 163-170, 171 172; 1st (1852) and 2nd (1892) Edition OS Maps; F H Groome, (ed), ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND, (1882), Vol 1, p178; D MacGibbon & T Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, Vol 1, p344 352, figs 295 303; T Ross, "Borthwick Castle", TRANSACTIONS OF THE EDINBURGH ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION, (1905), Vol 3, p53 60; "Borthwick Church and Castle", TRANSACTIONS OF THE SCOTTISH ECCLESIOLOGICAL SOCIETY, (1921 1922), Vol 7, pt 1, p39 44; The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments & Constructions of Scotland, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTIES OF MIDLOTHIAN AND WEST LOTHIAN, (1929), p3 8, ill p4, fig 30, 31, p6, fig 32; S Cruden, THE SCOTTISH CASTLE, (1960), p131 136, ill fig 13, pl 20; S Forman, "Borthwick Castle: the most complete 15th century Tower in Scotland", SCOTTISH FIELD, (May 1966), co 113, no 761, p 41 43; C McWilliam, THE BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: LOTHIAN EXCEPT EDINBURGH, (1978), p118 121; H Kirkland, THE THIRD STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, (1985), p219; R Fawcett, THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY OF SCOTLAND 1371-1560, (1994), p258 261, figs 8.1l, 8.19 & 8.20; J Thomas, MIDLOTHIAN: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE, (RIAS), (1995), p111, 119 120; I Gow, SCOTTISH HOUSES AND GARDENS, (Country Life), (1997), p18 19; NMRS, various illustrations, plans; LOANHEAD LOCAL STUDIES LIBRARY, Borthwick Castle File; A Fraser, MIDLOTHIAN: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT TO 1955, p21 23.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 16/07/2019 13:06