Located on a bend of the River Tweed, 1 mile (1½ km) west of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, Neidpath Castle dates from 1370 when it was built by the Hay family and remained in their ownership for over 300 years. In 1686 it passed to William Douglas (1637-95), 1st Duke of Queensberry and after a time it became neglected. In 1810 it was acquired by the Earl of Wemyss whose descendants still occupy it.
Neidpath is a rubble built L-plan tower house dating mostly to the 14th century. The upper floors were remodelled in the 16th, when the partially enclosed parapet was added. More alterations were carried out by the 2nd Earl of Tweeddale in the 17th, when the ground floor was remodelled, a new stairway inserted and a sub-dividing floor was added below the vault of the hall.
Home to the Fraser's at an early date, the last of this line was Sir Simon Fraser, famed for defeating the English three times in one day at Rosslyn Moor in 1302. He was later captured by them and put to death. It is thought there was a tower here at that time. His daughter and heiress married Gilbert de Haya of Yester and it remained a Hay possession until the end of the 17th century.
The original entrance was in the re-entrant angle but the 5th earl moved it to the centre of the east wall. Both ground floor rooms are vaulted and there is a turnpike stair in the thickness of the south wall. The first floor has a room in the wing and a wide stair leading up to the hall on the second floor. Another turnpike in the north - west angle gives a third route for access to the upper levels. The third floor is also vaulted.
The carved keystone of the arched gateway displays the goat's head emblem of the Hay's, Earl's of Tweeddale.
James VI stayed at Neidpath in 1587. It was garrisoned against Cromwell in 1650 and held out longer than any other stronghold south of the River Forth. A large section of the south wall and part of the upper level's were badly damaged during the siege, this is still visible today. The 5th Earl rebuilt the main block soon after, partially roofing the parapet to form galleries with square turrets and adding a garret storey, the original roof was flat. He also planted an avenue of yew trees on the approach to the castle.
In 1685 the estate was bought by the first Duke of Queensberry for his son, William Douglas, Earl of March. The third Earl of March died with no heir and the estate went to the fourth Duke of Queensberry. In 1810 the Earl of Wemyss inherited the title - Earl of March along with Neidpath Castle and estate.
Sir Walter Scott was a frequent visitor to Neidpath while his friend, Professor Adam Ferguson was a tenant here at the end of the 18th century.
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