Fa'side Castle, which is also known as Falside and/or Fawside, was built in the fifteenth century on the site of an earlier fortification. It was gutted by fire when the English attacked it following their victory at the Battle of Pinkie (1547) but was rebuilt and later expanded with an additional tower.
Fa'side Castle acquired its name from the Fawside family who obtained control of the site in the late fourteenth century. The fortification itself is older though - the land was granted to Saer de Quincy, Earl of Winchester in 1189 and, on his death, to his son Roger who later granted to his own son-in-law, Alan la Zouche of Ashby. One of these individuals built the original castle; almost certainly as a fortified tower supported by various service buildings. Alan was still owner in 1288 when the castle was attacked by Sir William Douglas and again a few years later at the start of the first War of Scottish Independence. His allegiance was with the English and according Fa'side Castle was one of the many fortified sites seized by Robert the Bruce after his 1306 rebellion.
Bruce granted the castle to the Seton family but they sold it to the Fawsides in 1371. That family owned the castle for the next 260 years and, at some point in the fifteenth century, whatever existing structure remained on the site was rebuilt in the form of a four storey Tower House. At its base was a courtyard, which would have hosted all the ancillary buildings associated with such a facility, and this was enclosed by a barmkin (curtain wall).
The Fawsides were still the owners during the War of the Rough Wooing when, in 1547, a large Scottish army intercepted an English invasion force under Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset in direct vicinity of the castle. The subsequent Battle of Pinkie was a tactical victory for the English who burnt Fa’side Castle in the wake of their victory.
Fa'side was clearly rebuilt soon after for Mary, Queen of Scots stayed there on 14 June 1567 before departing the following day for the Battle of Carberry Hill. Further modifications were made later in the sixteenth century with the existing structure being augmented by a stair tower which converted the castle into an L-plan configuration. The new tower had corbelled turrets projecting out from the top of its two southern corners.
The castle passed out of the hands of the Fawsides in 1631 when it was sold to an Edinburgh merchant. Over the subsequent centuries it was allowed to fall into ruin and at one point was on the brink of being demolished. However the castle was saved and in the mid-1970s was purchased with the intent of restoring it into a habitable residence. One of seventeen such towers renovated at this time, the work cost more than originally expected and the castle was repossessed before it was complete. Sold on to new owners, it today serves as a private hotel/bed and breakfast.
Brennan-Inglis, J (2014). Scotland's Castles: Rescued, Rebuilt and Reoccupied. The History Press, Stroud.
CANMORE (2016). Falside 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.
Lindsay, M (1986). The Castles of Scotland. Constable, Edinburgh.
MacGibbon, D and Ross, T (1887). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. Edinburgh.
Peebles, I (1985). Castle for sale: Fawside Castle. The Scottish Portrait, Edinburgh.
Simpson, W.D (1959). Scottish Castles - An introduction to the Castles of Scotland. HM Stationery Office, Edinburgh.
Strutt and Parker (1985). Fawside Castle, East Lothian (Conveyancing Record). Edinburgh.
Strutt and Parker (1989). Fawside Castle, East Lothian (Conveyancing Record). Edinburgh.
Fa'side Castle is a private residence although it does also serve as a bed and breakfast. The structure is clearly visible from the adjacent public road.
Fa'side Castle. The castle was built by the Fawside family and acquired its name from them. The corruption in the spelling seemingly originated from, or at least was widely promulgated by, a nineteenth century Ordnance Survey map.
Fa'side Castle is found off an unnamed road accessed off Salters Road near the junction with the A1. It is not sign-posted and the castle is initially obscured by trees but looms into view as you turn towards it. On-road parking is possible with care.