Featured image for Neidpath Castle

An Unspoiled Keep – Neidpath Castle

The beautiful ancient walls of Neidpath Castle have long been home to generations of Aristrocatic Scottish families. Their stories make up all of the life of the castle we know and love today. This castle has an enduring and fascinating beauty about it. It is often described as an enchanting place with a truly historic heart.

The history of Neidpath Castle

Neidpath Castle is a gorgeous L-plan rubble-built tower house, overlooking the River Tweed about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Peebles in the Borders of Scotland. The castle is both a well-loved wedding venue and filming location and can be viewed by appointment.

The early history

Sometime between 1263 and 1266, an early castle was likely built by Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle while he held the office of High Sheriff of Tweeddale. The barony of Neidpath was then acquired by the Hay family via the marriage to the Fraser heiress in the early 14th century. Sir William de Haya is likely responsible for the building of the present castle in the late 14th century.

It was held by the family of William de Haya until the 17th century, although Sir William’s grandson, Sir William Hay, married the daughter and heiress of Sir Hugh Gifford of Yester. This then led to them acquiring Yester Castle, which became the principal family seat, although Neidpath continued to be used. In 1563, Neidpath Castle was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots and by her son James VI in 1587.

Still of Neidpath Castle
The castle was built by Simon Fraser. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Tumultuous times

In 1646, Neidpath Castle was garrisoned against the Royalist forces of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose. However, the year after, in 1647, John Hay of Yester joined the King’s party, and was created 1st Earl of Tweeddale by King Charles II. It was during Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland in 1650 that Neidpath was attacked.

Mike Salter stated that the castle was surrendered without a fight during this time. However, other sources suggest that it required the longest assault on any stronghold south of the River Forth to force it to surrender.

Sometime during the 1660s, the 2nd Earl of Tweeddale remodelled the castle completely and constructed the outbuildings. The 2nd Earl was known as an agricultural “improver” who planted an avenue of yews. Only one side of this remains. However, he was soon declared bankrupt, and sold Neidpath Castle to William Douglas, 1st Duke of Queensberry in 1686.

Changing hands

In 1693, the 1st Duke of Queensberry gave the castle to his second son William Douglas, later the 1st Earl of March. His son, also known as William, the 2nd Earl, made alterations to the castle in the 18th century. The 3rd Earl then inherited the title and estates of the Duke of Queensberry in 1778. He subsequently let Neidpath Castle to tenants.

These tenants included the philosopher and historian Adam Ferguson. The castle suffered neglect, however, and by 1790 the upper stories of the wing had completely collapsed. William Wordsworth and Walter Scott both visited the castle in 1803. On the death of the Duke in 1810, the castle, along with the earldom of March, was inherited by the Earl of Wemyss. However, the dukedom then went to the Scotts of Buccleuch.

In 1887, James Taylor wrote that the 13th-century tower was demolished by artillery during the siege and the Listed building report notes that there was damage to the west wing.

gateway to the courtyard at Neidpath Castle
Entrance to the courtyard at Neidpath Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The current day

Nowadays, Neidpath Castle still belongs to the Earl of Wemyss. The Earl’s heir takes his courtesy title, Lord Neidpath, from it. The castle now offers private tours, lunches, and teas to visitors, in the Great Hall all year round, by appointment only.

You may be interested in other Scottish castles such as Floors Castle and Duns Castle.

Neidpath Castle Timeline

  • 1263 to 1266- An early castle is likely built by Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle while he held the office of High Sheriff of Tweeddale
  • Early 14th century- The barony of Neidpath is acquired by the Hay family via the marriage to the Fraser heiress
  • Late 14th century- Sir William de Haya is likely responsible for the building of the present castle
  • 1563- Neidpath Castle is visited by Mary, Queen of Scots
  • 1587- James VI visits the castle
  • 1646- Neidpath Castle is garrisoned against the Royalist forces of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
  • 1647- John Hay of Yester joins the King’s party, and is created 1st Earl of Tweeddale by King Charles II
  • 1650- During Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland Neidpath Castle is attacked and the castle was damaged
  • 1660s- The 2nd Earl of Tweeddale remodels the castle completely and constructs the outbuildings
  • 1686- The castle sells to William Douglas, 1st Duke of Queensberry
  • 1693- The 1st Duke of Queensberry gives the castle to his second son William Douglas, later the 1st Earl of March
  • 18th century- William, the 2nd Earl, makes alterations to the castle
  • 1778- The 3rd Earl then inherits the title and estates of the Duke of Queensberry
  • 1790- The upper stories of the wing have completely collapsed
  • 1803- William Wordsworth and Walter Scott both visit the castle
  • 1810- On the death of the Duke, the castle, along with the earldom of March, is inherited by the Earl of Wemyss
  • 1887- James Taylor writes that the 13th-century tower was demolished by artillery during the siege and the Listed building report notes that there is damage to the west wing
Portrait shot of Neidpath Castle
Mary, Queen of Scots visited the castle in 1563. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Neidpath Castle facts

  • Neidpath has been used as a location for many films and television series
  • Neidpath Castle is a tall L-plan tower house with one leg of the L being very short
  • The archway of the castle is decorated with both the goats head emblem of the Hays and the strawberries of the Frasers
  • Neidpath Castle overlooks the River Tweed
  • The castle is both a wedding venue and filming location and can be viewed by appointment

Featured in TV and Film

  • The Bruce (1996)
  • Merlin (1998)
  • Sam and Colby (2019)

Books on Neidpath Castle

  • Neidpath Castle and its Lairds by Steve Dubé (Publishing year unknown)

Who owns Neidpath Castle?

Nowadays, Neidpath Castle remains under the ownership of the Earl of Wemyss. It has been owned by the Wemyss family now for over 200 years.

Tourism

Standing high above the River Tweed, Neidpath Castle is now open to the public for private tours, lunches, and teas to visitors. It is open all year round via appointment only. It is also available for weddings, events, and accommodation.

Neidpath Castle is also used as a filming location. Nearby, you can visit Traquair House, Pentland Hills, Dawyck Botanic Gardens, Glentress Forrest, Kailzie Gardens, and Saint Mary’s Loch.

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