Innerwick Castle was a courtyard castle built by the Stewarts around the fourteenth century. It later passed to the Hamilton family and, during their tenure, it was attacked by Henry Percy in 1403 and by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset in 1548. After this last assault it was slighted and never rebuilt. The castle is ruinous, on private property and has no public access.
Innerwick Castle occupies a sandstone crag overlooking a steeply sided ravine that was cut by the Thornton Burn. Located just a short distance from the coastal road, a major route that has been in use for thousands of years, a castle was first recorded on the site in the early fifteenth century although it is probable that one had existed on the site for much longer. Although originally owned by the Stewarts, it passed to the Hamilton family in 1398. Shortly after, following the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Homildon Hill (1402), Innerwick Castle was besieged by an English force under Henry Percy (Hotspur). However this attack, which was combined with an assault on nearby Cocklaw Tower, was merely a ruse to divert attention away from Percy's prime intention - a rebellion against Henry IV of England. Accordingly, whilst Innerwick Castle may have been burnt during the attack, the English soon withdrew and repairs were made shortly after.
The castle took the form of a small courtyard castle and occupied the entire rocky outcrop on which it stood. A ditch was cut into the rock to separate the promontory from the surrounding land and was crossed via a timber bridge. In the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century a Tower House was added to the castle constructed from rubble with ashlar features.
Innerwick Castle was besieged by English forces in 1547 during the Rough Wooing. The garrison was smoked out but the following year it was back in Scottish hands and it was again attacked by an English army headed by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset. Whilst the main English assault was targeted against Thornton Castle, on the other side of the ravine, a detachment of Hakbutters were sent to besiege Innerwick. These sharpshooters picked off the garrison as they attempted to defend the site, burnt the castle gate and stormed in. The final defender jumped from the battlements into the ravine, a drop of some 20 metres, but was subsequently killed by the English forces. Innerwick Castle, now in English hands, was slighted and never rebuilt. However, in 1650 the abandoned ruins were briefly used as a Covenanter base for attacks on Oliver Cromwell's army during his invasion of Scotland.
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Innerwick Castle is an overgrown ruin with no public access due to dangerously unstable masonry. The castle and glen are private property but a public access footpath runs adjacent to the castle allowing a portion of the exterior to be viewed. There is no access to the castle interior.
Innerwick Castle is located on privately owned land that is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The site can be found on an unnamed road off the A1 (sign-posted 'Thornton') with a small stile providing entrance into the site. There is a small car park or alternatively on-road parking is possible. There is no access to the castle interior.
The site is accessed via a stile directly off the road.