Crookston Castle was originally an earth and timber ringwork fortification built in the late twelfth century by Robert de Croc. This early castle was upgraded into a Tower House around 1400 by the Stewarts of Darnley. Their castle was attacked and badly damaged during a siege in 1489 and only partially repaired.
Crookston acquired its name from Robert de Croc, a Norman Knight who had been encouraged to settle in Scotland by David I and had been granted the territory in 1170. He built an earth and timber ringwork castle on the site shortly after possibly replacing an earlier fortified farmstead. It remained with his descendants until 1330 when it was purchased by Sir Alan Stewart and in 1361 was granted to John Stewart of Darnley. His descendants built Crookston Castle, within the earthworks of the former fortification, around 1400.
The castle occupied the summit of a hill overlooking Levern Water near its confluence with White Cart Water. The original fortification was an oval shaped ringwork consisting of a ditch and counterscarp bank. There is no evidence of an internal rampart and it is probable the inner defences simply consisted of a timber palisade. Little is known about the internal arrangements and it is likely the buildings were simple timber structures but included a chapel which had been founded within the castle precincts no later than 1180. The site was extensively modified when the tower was built in the fifteenth century with the earthworks being modified into a D-shaped enclosure to support a stone barmkin wall. The tower itself was built within these remains and took a highly unusual form with a rectangular block augmented by four square towers on each corner. The main facilities were located in the central block with the ground floor consisting of a vaulted storeroom, the first floor a Great Hall and the Lordly accommodation above. The corner towers hosted the secondary accommodation and also service/storerooms.
By the late fifteenth century the castle was owned by John Stewart, Earl of Lennox. He supported James III and continued to fight the rebels even after that King's death at the Battle of Sauchieburn (1488). The fighting continued into the following year and Crookston Castle was besieged. In the subsequent assault it was bombarded by artillery including the great siege gun known as Mons Meg which caused significant damage to the western end of the castle. The castle was quickly taken and suffered further damage when it slighted by the attackers. It was later re-occupied and restored but was attacked again in 1544 by James Hamilton, Earl of Arran. Further repairs were made and it is possible that it was at Crookston where Henry Stewart (Stuart), Lord Darnley and Mary, Queen of Scots were betrothed.
In 1572 the castle passed into the ownership of Charles Stewart, Earl of Lennox but by the early seventeenth century it had effectively gone out of use. It was sold to James Graham, Marquis of Montrose in 1703 and eventually ended up in the hands of the Maxwell family in the mid-nineteenth century. They made attempts to restore the property but these were never wholly successful and today the castle is in ruins.
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Crookston Castle consists of an early fifteenth century Tower House surrounded by earthworks of an earlier ringwork fortification.
Crookston Castle. The castle is in ruins having suffered extensive damage during the siege of 1489. Although partially repaired it was attacked again in 1544 and had been abandoned by the early 1600s.
Towers. The configuration of Crookston Castle was highly unusual with the main rectangular block augmented with four square towers on each corner. Only one now survives to its full height.
View. The castle's position on top of the knoll of high ground gave it clear views over the Clyde region.
Mons Meg. Now on display in Edinburgh Castle, this great siege gun was used to destroy Crookston Castle's walls during the siege of 1489.