I absolutely can. It’s all about castles recently! Thanks very much for the compliment too. I’m really glad that you like Old Glasgow.
Cathcart Castle is one of those buildings that really give me the heebie-jeebies, based mostly on the first photo in the series. Probably something to do with the composition but the people in the photo barely seem aware that the Castle is there at all. Almost as if it’s stalking them but- as we all know- castles are terrible hunters.
As you say, very little of it is left now, just a three foot high perimeter covered in plant growth. Anything that isn’t covered has been graffitied by people who probably had no idea what they were tagging. Like much of Scotland’s ruined history, you could walk past it and not give it any thought.
The Castle was originally built in the 1400s by Lord Cathcart (surprisingly enough) whose family had held the lands since for 300 years. There are earthworks in the vicinity of the castle which suggest that it originally had a bailey curtain wall. Whether this was present at the time of Mary, Queen Of Scots is unknown to me but I am led to understand that the castle was in the hands (through marriage, rather than conquest) of a family called Semple (Sempill) at the time of Mary’s ill-fated jaunt through Glasgow.
One story has Mary moving from Crookston Castle (in Pollok) down to Cathcart Castle around 1568. In my opinion the story about Mary watching the battle from Cathcart Castle is probably exaggerated. According to Gordon Mason in his book “The Castles of Glasgow & The Clyde” (2000), it is unlikely that Mary ever stayed at Cathcart Castle as the Semples supported Mary’s enemies.
It is more likely that she spent the night at the stronghold of the Stuarts of Castlemilk near the Cathkin Braes before the Battle of Langside. They were friends of the dethroned Queen and its proximity to Cathcart Castle gives rise to the apocryphal story about her watching the battle from an upper window.
It’s one of those stories from history that is almost impossible to confirm or deny. What isn’t in doubt is that the first battle in the Marian Civil War, the Battle of Langside, is often seen as the beginning of the end for Mary, Queen of Medieval Tragedy.
As for Cathcart Castle itself, it was restored as the family pile of the Cathcarts in 1814 when the 1st Earl of Cathcart bought back the property. By this time, the castle was getting on for 300 years old and wasn’t up to the refined living standards of the 19th Century gentry and it is thought that the Earl intended merely to use the castle as a source of income, selling the stone to local masons.
By 1866, the castle still hovered ominously above the cottages which had subsequently been built in its shadow. In 1927, the Corporation of Glasgow purchased the lands including the castle and Cathcart House which had replaced it as the grand dwelling.
There was talk of restoring the castle as a heritage site but by 1980 it was clear that the ruins were dangerous and the Council took the decision to pull them down.
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