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Plate L., Crichton Castle, p.99.

[Scotland Illustrated Contents]

THE Castle of Crichton, in the parish of the same name, in Mid-Lothian, is a very ancient and magnificent building. It overhangs a beautiful little glen through which the Tyne slowly meanders. It is a square massive building, with a court in the centre; and appears to be composed of parts built in different ages, yet upon a systematic plan. Sir Walter Scott refers the tower on the north-western angle to the 14th century. The walls of the central part exhibit diamond-shaped facets; and the soffits of the principal staircase are likewise covered with elaborate and curious work, presenting twining cordage and rosettes. Some of the rooms are still in a great measure entire in the general outline. On the forfeiture of William, third Lord Crichton, this castle was granted to Sir John Ramsay of Balmain; from whom it afterwards passed, by forfeiture, to Patrick Hepburn, chief of that name, and third Lord Hales, ancestor of the celebrated Earl of Bothwell. On the forfeiture of this last nobleman in 1567, Crichton became the property of the Crown, but was granted to Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell. It has subsequently passed through the hands of a dozen proprietors, from one of whom, Hepburn of Humbie, who acquired it about the year 1649, it has derived a designation by which it is not unfrequently known among the common people of the district – ‘Humbie’s Wa’s.’ Sir Walter Scott, in the 4th canto of Marmion,’ has minutely described this relic of feudal ages:

“That castle rises on the steep
Of the green vale of Tyne:
And far beneath, where slow they creep,
From pool to eddy, dark and deep, –
Where alders moist, and willows weep, –
You hear her streams repine.
The towers in different ages rose;
Their various architecture shows
The builders’ various hands;
A mighty mass, that could oppose,
When deadliest hatred fired its foes,
The vengeful Douglas bands.
Crichton! though now thy miry court
But pens the lazy steer and sheep;
Thy turrets rude, and totter’d keep,
Have been the minstrel’s loved resort.
Oft have I traced within thy fort,
Of mouldering shields the mystic sense, –
Scutcheons of honour, or pretence,
Quarter’d in old armorial sort,
Remains of rude magnificence.
Nor wholly yet has time defaced
Thy lordly gallery fair;
Nor yet the stony cord unbraced
Whose twisted knots, with roses laced,
Adorn thy ruin’d stair.
Still rises unimpaired below
The court-yard’s graceful portico;
Above its cornice, row and row
Of fair hewn facets richly show
Their pointed diamond form;
Though there but houseless cattle go
To shield them from the storm;
And, shuddering, still may we explore,
Where oft whilom were captives pent,
The darkness of thy Massy-more;
Or from thy grass-grown battlement,
May trace, in undulating line,
The sluggish mazes of the Tyne.”
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