Today little remains of Colzium Castle which was once a large 'L' plan Tower House that was built in the late sixteenth century to replace an earlier motte-and-bailey fortification. In 1645 the Battle of Kilsyth was fought in the vicinity between the Royalists and Covenanters during which the castle's owner supported the King's cause. The Tower House was demolished in 1703.
It is not clear when a Manor was first established at Colzium but the presence of a motte suggests it was no later than the twelfth century. At this time such structures were being raised by Norman and Flemish immigrants, who had been invited into Scotland by David I (1124-53), and also by the native Scots who imitated the continental designs. It is not known who raised the motte at Colzium but it was built around an existing rocky mound and was presumably topped by a timber palisade and/or tower. There is no obvious bailey although this could have been flooded under the adjacent Banton Loch which was created in 1773 to serve as the main feeder reservoir for the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Colzium Castle itself was a Tower House built to replace the former fortification based around the motte. Constructed from roughly dressed stone, an engraving dated 1575 was found amongst the ruins suggesting it was built, or extensively modified, at this time. The basement consisted of a vaulted chamber whilst the upper levels can be presumed to have consisted of a hall and accommodation. The Tower was configured in an 'L' plan layout and later in the castle's life an adjoining hall block was added.
In August 1645 the Battle of Kilsyth was fought in the vicinity between the Royalists and Covenanters. The former were commanded by James Graham, Marquis of Montrose who won a decisive victory at the battle and became, albeit briefly, the master of Scotland. It is tempting to imagine he might have been hosted here at the castle in the aftermath given that the then owner, James Livingstone (later Viscount Kilsyth) was a committed Royalist.
James Livingston died in September 1661 and was followed by his eldest son, also called James. He was followed by his brother, William, who ordered the demolition of Colzium Castle in 1703. William later participated in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion and, after its failure, fled abroad. His estates were confiscated and he ultimately died in Rome whilst exiled in 1733. Thereafter the estate became the property of the Edmonstone family. Whilst the castle itself was not rebuilt, in 1783 a new mansion house was commissioned and this was substantially enlarged in 1861. It was gifted to the community in 1937.
CANMORE (2016). Castle Hill, Colzium. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
CANMORE (2016). Colzium Castle. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
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Millar, H.B (1978). Colzium Castle. Cumbernauld.
Stevenson, D (1977). Revolution & Counter-Revolution in Scotland 1644-51. Newton Abbott.
Tranter, N (1962). The fortified house in Scotland. Edinburgh.
Colzium Castle was demolished in 1703 and only fragments of the basement and west wall now survive. The ruins are found within the Colzium Estate and are adjacent to the walled garden. The motte from the original castle is also visible and found by Banton Loch. The Battle of Kilsyth (1645) was fought nearby and a monument can be found within the grounds.
Motte. The first castle was a motte based fortification and probably also had an associated bailey. This has not been located but could be submerged under Banton Loch.
Banton Loch. This was created in 1773 to serve as the main feeder reservoir for the Forth and Clyde Canal. It is likely a significant portion of the Kilsyth (1645) battlefield is submerged under this loch.
Colzium Castle. Not a great deal remains of Colzium Castle other than the West Wall and part of the basement.
Colzium Castle is located within the Colzium Estate which is found to the north-east of Kilsyth. The site is accessed (and sign-posted) from the A803 Stirling Road. Car parking is available on-site or on-road near the estate entrance.
Car Parking Option
Car Park (on Estate)
Battle of Kilsyth Monument