Several miles east of the village of Innerwick, near Dunbar
in East Lothian, perched on top of a sandstone outcrop, overhanging the
Thorton ravine stands the vaulted basements of Innerwick castle. The present
ruin dates from the 1400's and 1500's and was a keep with an outer courtyard
wall, with a gradual infill of additional buildings as time went on. The
original castle site though dates back to the mid 1300's when it was built for
the Stewarts. In 1398,the castle passed to the Hamiltons, ancestors of the
Earls of Haddington.
In 1403 Innerwick was besieged by the English knight
'Hotspur' Percy and Archibald 4th Earl of Douglas, a Scot held by the Percies
since the defeat of the Scots army at the battle of Homildon Hill, near Wooler,
in 1402. However the siege of Innerwick and it's near neighbour Cocklaws
tower, a Gladstone house, proved to be a mock affair and a smoke screen, for
when the Duke of Albany arrived with a large Scots army to save Innerwick and
Cocklaws, Percy and Douglas had headed south-west to contact Douglas vassals
and march on Wales. Percy, Douglas and his men were now in league with Owen of
Glendower in open revolt against King Henry IV of England (1399-1413). But at
the battle of Shrewsbury 'Hotspur' was killed, Douglas retaken captive and the
In 1547 Innerwick was attacked by the English during the
wars of the 'Rough Wooing'. This was where the English insisted by force that
the child Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) be married to the English Prince
One English force attacked Thornton castle, a Home
stronghold, directly across the ravine from Innerwick. While a separate
English unit of hakbutters (an early type of rife) besieged Innerwick itself.
The Master of Hamilton and eight other gentlemen barricaded the doors and
defended from the battlements. Part of the castle was set ablaze and the
hakbutters entered by storm, killing eight of the defenders on the spot; the
ninth jumped from the castle battlements much to the disbelief of onlookers
falling some 60 to 70ft.into the ravine and river below. The English commander
conducting the siege of Innerwick was so impressed by this feat of daring that
he called for the man's life to be spared. However, as he made his way
upstream he was shot dead by the other English force attacking Thorton castle.
Following this Thornton was demolished and Innerwick dismantled.
The castle of Innerwick can't have been completely
destroyed as it was being used by Scots horsemen, in 1650,as a base to attack
Cromwell's supply lines, in conjunction with the raids made by the 'desperado
gallants' of Tantallon castle, near North Berwick and the 'moss troopers' of
Dirleton castle. It appears though that Innerwick was 'quitted' by the Scots
as only Tantallon and Dirleton are recorded as being bombarded and stormed in
letters of the time.
The occupation of the Lothians by Cromwell, and his
systematic destruction of castles therein, proved that the days of the mighty
stone castle was over. Modern cannon could fell any monument great or small.
For this reason from the 1650's onwards castles were no longer repaired or
rebuilt as the expense made it a futile exercise. Innerwick like so many other
castles fell the fate of being viewed as the local quarry.