Roslin Castle, Midlothian – Clan Sinclair
Located only a few hundred yards away from the more famous Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin Castle is an often forgotten gem of the Midlothian countryside and the historic seat of the powerful Clan Sinclair.
Now a partially ruined fortress, the castle sits on a bend in the River North Esk and is connected to the rest of the town by a narrow bridge which allows visitors to walk across the glen from the castle’s rocky to the town above.
Roslin castle was first constructed by the Sinclair Earls of Orkney and Lords of Shetland, who had held the lands around Roslin since the 12th or 13th century, and was likely built around the end of the 14th or early 15th century. In its early days, it contained a scriptorium and five of the Manuscripts that were written there are now located in the National Library of Scotland. The manuscripts would almost perish when a terrible fire damaged the castle in 1452, however, it is said that the Earl managed to arrange for their safe removal as his chaplain lowered them to safety through a window.
The castle would incur further damage in 1544 when it was sacked and torched by the Earl of Hertford and would then suffer a fate of many other Scottish castles when it was attacked by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1650.
This damage meant that by the 18th century, the castle was barely inhabitable other than a section of its east range. Despite this, it would pass under the ownership of James Erskine in 1789 and in 1805, Erskine would inherit the title ‘Earl of Rosslyn’. Since then, the castle has been in the possession of his descendants and part of the structure would be restored by them between 1982 and 1988. The current owner, the 7th Earl of Rosslyn is a descendent of the original Sinclair family who built the castle back in the late 14th century.
In contemporary culture, Roslin Castle would feature in the popular film adaption of the Dan Brown Book, The Da Vinci Code. The building is also reported to be haunted by the ghost of a dog that was killed with its master following a battle in the glen in 1303. According to visitors to the castle, the dog can be heard howling inside the castle and the spectre of a black knight on a black horse can also be seen in the glen below.
Despite its haunted reputation, the castle is a fantastic place to visit for anyone wishing to travel to a scenic area with a plethora of history. Other than the castle, the surrounding area also contains a number of fantastic walking paths in and around the glen and of course, the stunningly preserved Rosslyn Chapel is also only a stone’s throw away. The castle is a worthwhile visit for anyone in the vicinity of the city of Edinburgh and can even be rented as accommodation for the full experience.