Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Hailes Castle

The main thing about Hailes Castle is the fact that I had never heard of it before.

Out on a bike ride on quiet roads in East Lothian, we came across this intriguing ruin.

Approaching Hailes Castle:

What was it? Hailes Castle, on the banks of the River Tyne, just east of Haddington. We took a look round.

Never mind that it dates from the 13th century and has featured strongly in the story of Scotland's medieval invasions by England. I'd never even heard of it! Its original owners, the de Gourlay's, supported the Plantagenets in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Hailes will thus have welcomed a couple of English armies in its time. After Bannockburn, the de Gourlays were ejected and Hailes was given to the de Hepburn (not Dee Hepburn) family.

Hailes sits on the main invasion route into Scotland for any army coming from the port of Dunbar rather than over the hills via Lauderdale. Doubtless Edward III came this way on the occasion of the Burnt Candlemas in 1356, when the English were forced to withdraw before reaching Edinburgh as a great wind blew up destroying their supply fleet - divine retribution, the Scots believed, for the desecration of the chapel of the Virgin at Whitekirk and the destruction of the Franciscan Friary in Haddington, known as the 'Lamp of Lothian'.


Now all is peacefully ruined in carefully mown lawns with a small burn at one side, locals fishing by the trees overhanging the river on the other, the main route to Edinburgh bypassed by the noisy A1 dual carriageway - from which, if you are looking out the window at the right moment and the right angle, a glimpse of Hailes can be had.


I know that East Lothian is over-endowed with castles, but this is still a pretty substantial and historical ruin to never even be aware of its existence. Have you ever heard of Hailes Castle either?


blueskyscotland said...

Visited Hailes by chance a couple of years ago on a solo bike ride.Thanks for the history.Great place.Amazing cycling in that area.
Youve probably been to Crichton Castle(gorebridge) already Robert but if not thats a great run on a bike as well from Vogrie country park.

Robert Craig said...

Yes, been to Crichton, also Crichton Kirk and a wedding in nearby Borthwick Castle - Lothian is hoaching with castles!