20 December 2006
Since the turn of the millennium, Bothwell Castle has welcomed over 40,000 visitors. In recent years, Historic Scotland Monument Manager Chris Timmins has noticed something very different about the main bulk of his guests: they sit when told, they like to sniff things and they’ve got four legs?!
Yes, it seems one of Scotland’s finest medieval castles has a whole new fanbase: prize-winning pooches!
Staff have noticed a marked increase in the number of dogs visiting the site with their owners and are now trying to work out what attracts these super furry animals.
Chris Timmins explains: "I never realised dogs were interested in medieval history, but they definitely like having a wander around Bothwell Castle! Perhaps it is because of the sheer size of the site or maybe all the secret nooks and crannies they can investigate. Whatever the reason, we are delighted with the interest from our four-legged friends and encourage their impeccable behaviour.
The owners of the dogs have a special Five O’clock Club, which has been running for a number of years, where they meet to discuss dog training and other pooch issues. But woe betide anyone that breaks our rules regarding dog litter. The Five O’clock Club’s pride in the Castle is almost as high as ours and the culprit will quickly be shown the error of their ways!"
Bothwell Castle is one of the most outstanding monuments of medieval Scotland and to visit is an experience not easily forgotten. The Castle owes its origins to Walter of Moray who acquired the lordship of Bothwell in 1242. He set about creating a mighty castle in a spectacular display of feudal pride, but alas never completed his work. However, he did manage to finish what still enthrals visitors to the Castle today - the great donjon or tower, which has justifiably been described as ‘the grandest piece of secular architecture that the Middle Ages has bequeathed to us in Scotland’.
Reverend Norman McKee from Uddingston Old Parish Church hit the headlines recently after saving black labrador, Gimli, from the River Clyde near Bothwell Castle. Gimli and his owner are regular visitors to the Castle and Chris is looking forward to welcoming them back very soon.
Another heart-warming tale is that of a small black mongrel puppy abandoned buy its owners at the Castle only this week. Luckily, it just so happened that before Chris took the shivering pup to a rescue shelter, a visitor overheard the tale. Her parents’ dog had just passed away and this would be the perfect Christmas surprise for them, so a home was found – a very happy ending.
Notes for editors
- Dogs on leads are permitted at many Historic Scotland properties. Visitors are advised to telephone the property they wish to visit in advance to check.
- Bothwell Castle is at Uddingston off the B7071. Telephone 01698 816894. Tickets are £3 for adults, £1.30 for children and £2.30 concessions.
- Bothwell is Scotland’s largest and finest 13th century castle. Part of the original circular keep survives. The adjacent semi-natural ancient woodlands full of woodland flowers. There is access to the Clyde River Walkway.
- This great Castle featured prominently in the wars with England in the early fourteenth century. Siege followed by siege, the most momentous being the great siege of 1301 in which the might of the English field army, some 7,000 men, was deployed against the Castle.
- After these wars, Bothwell passed to the Black Douglases and much of what is there today is their work; a major rebuilding of a castle badly damaged by war.
- In 1455, after being overthrown by King James II, the Castle and lordship reverted to the Crown.
- The Castle was put in state care in 1935 and is now looked after by Historic Scotland.
- Historic Scotland is an Agency within the Scottish Executive Education Department and is directly responsible to Scottish Ministers for safeguarding the nation's historic environment, and promoting its understanding and enjoyment.
- Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.