Rutherglen Castle

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The castle at Rutherglen was granted to Queen Joanna as part of her dowry in 1221. It was garrisoned by the English during the Wars of Independence and was kept in good repair until after the battle of Langside in 1568, when it was burnt on the orders of the Regent Moray. One of the principal towers was refurbished and it became the seat of the Hamiltons of Elistoun.

The Castle of Rutherglen seems to have been at one time a place of considerable strength and importance. This structure, which was said to have been erected by Reuther, a king whose name is associated with the origin of the town, was indeed ranked among the fortresses of the country.

The castle at Rutherglen was granted to Queen Joanna as part of her dowry in 1221.

During the troubles which broke out in consequence of the contested claims of Bruce and Baliol, the usurper, Edward of England, took possession of this and other castles of Scotland. Robert the Bruce, when he raised the standard of his country’s independence, determined to wrest this important place of strength from the English. He accordingly laid siege to it in the year 1309. On hearing of this, Edward sent his nephew, the young Earl of Gloucester, to relieve the garrison. What the immediate result was is somewhat doubtful. Some historians assert that Bruce overcame the garrison, while others are of opinion that he was forced to retire without accomplishing his purpose.

One source claims that, following the Battle of the Pass of Brander, in late 1308, Sir James Douglas joined with Edward Bruce, the king's brother, successfully assaulting Rutherglen Castle. A sitting of parliament was then held before it was again taken by English forces. Bruce and Douglas then went on to campaign in Galloway.

In 1313, however, the Scottish king took possession of Rutherglen Castle, having driven the English from the country, and made a descent upon England, carrying fire and sword into several of the northern counties.”

The castle it would seem was handed for a short while during this tumultuous period into the hands of the Anglified French/Wales based Baron: Aymer de Valance, who for a while owned nearby Bothwell castle and many of the surrounding lands.

The castle and gardens were described as being in a state of disorder in 1710 (Wilson, 1936, 10). Ure explained that on the decline of the Hamilton family at the end of the seventeenth century, the 'house was left to fall to ruins by frequent dilapidations, and was soon levelled with the ground'. Foundation stones measuring five feet in length by four feet in breadth were removed in 1759. Subsequently, they were built into a dyke adjoining the burgh but by the middle of the last century all trace of them had disappeared.

The castle occupied a site in King Street, nearly at the point where it is intersected by Castle Street in a square measuring from the Salvation Army Hall to Castle Street northward to the south side of the railway embankment, while the grounds 'abutted on the Kirkyard, the Main Street, Rutherglen Green and included the whole of Alleybank'. No vestiges of Rutherglen castle are to be observed above ground level.


Sources for this article include:

•  ‘Historic Rutherglen: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1978)

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Last modified: Tuesday, 01 February 2022