Cathcart Castle was a five storey Tower House built in the late fifteenth century by Sir Alan Cathcart and was used by Mary, Queen of Scots to view the Battle of Langside (1568). The castle was purchased by Glasgow City Council but it became unstable and was demolished in 1980. Only foundations survive.
Cathcart Castle was probably built by Sir Alan Cathcart in the latter half of the fifteenth century. Sir Alan had served as Warden of the (Scottish) West March and as Master of the Artillery. He was created Lord Cathcart sometime between 1447 and 1460. Work on Cathcart Castle, which was probably intended to reflect his new status, started soon after. The castle may have been built upon the foundations of an earlier fortification for the family had owned the manor since at least the twelfth century.
The Tower was a simple rectangular structure built on top of a cliff overlooking White Cart Water. It originally stood five storeys tall with the ground floor being a vaulted store, the first floor was a Great Hall and accommodation occupied the levels above. A courtyard was located directly to the west which would have hosted the ancillary buildings associated with such a site. A substantial barmkin (curtain wall), partly embedded into the cliff face, surrounded the site and was augmented by round corner towers.
Cathcart Castle passed into the hands of the Semple family in the early sixteenth century and it was still under their control when the Battle of Langside was fought nearby in May 1568. In this engagement the forces of the deposed Mary, Queen of Scots attempted to defeat those of the Regent - James Stewart, Earl of Moray. Mary watched the battle unfold from Cathcart - either from the castle itself or the adjacent hill known as Court Knowe. However, the Regent and the Queen fled to England where she suffered a long imprisonment (and eventually execution) at the hands of Elizabeth I.
The castle was still occupied in 1740 but it was vacated that year as its owner moved into a new mansion, Cathcart House, nearby. The castle's lead roof was removed and recycled and the structure fell into disrepair. The castle returned to its original owners in 1814 when the Semples sold it to William Cathcart, Earl Cathcart. However, he had little interest in maintaining the small, roofless castle and it was left to drift into ruin. It was purchased by Glasgow City Council in 1927 and then incorporated into Linn Park. However, the structure was becoming unstable and Glasgow City Council demolished it in 1980. Only low foundations now survive.
Bogdan, N and Bryce, I.B.D (1991). Castles, manors and 'town houses' survey.
CANMORE (2016). Cathcart Castle. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
Coventry, M (2008). Castles of the Clans: the Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. RCAHMS, Musselburgh.
MacGibbon, D and Ross, T. (1892). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. Edinburgh.
Tranter, N (1962). The fortified house in Scotland. Edinburgh.
Cathcart Castle was a late fifteenth century Tower House. It was demolished by Glasgow City Council in 1980 and only low foundations now survive.
Cathcart Castle Before 1980. The castle was originally a rectangular Tower House. Images (c) Historic Environment Scotland, licence number IMSL-IR-98561.
Castle After 1980. The castle was demolished in 1980 because it was deemed unsafe.
Castle Site. The site is now covered in trees but originally the castle would have dominated the hill. Image right (c) Historic Environment Scotland, licence number IMSL-IR-98561.