During our recent trip to Scotland it was very enjoyable to search for and tour a variety of castles. When you crest that hill or turn that corner and a 600 year old structure comes into view, you can't help but wonder what life was like back then. Your imagination heats up when you think about the people that built these castles, lived in these castles, destroyed these castles.
Not too far from the city of Edinburgh lies Crichton Castle, situated above the River Tyne valley. After parking the car it is only about a 1/2km walk above the valley to the castle. This particular castle was built in 1400 by the Crichtons. And like most of the castles we found, the lives of many of the individuals associated with them were full of intrigue, scandal, and even murder. This castle was no exception. According to one website, an early owner of this castle was William Crichton who was known as the Sheriff of Edinburgh, Keeper of Edinburgh Castle and Chancellor of Scotland. Apparently, a very important and powerful person. He was interested in overthrowing the Black Douglas family and so in 1440 he invited the 16 year old William Douglas and his brother to Edinburgh Castle to dinner, entertaining them on the way at Crichton Castle. At the end of their meal the head of a black bull was placed on the table sending the Douglas brothers a foreboding message. After a mock trial they were both be-headed, the incident becoming known as the 'black dinner'. Civil war followed and the Douglas family responded by besieging and partially destroying Crichton Castle. Another interesting fact: in 1452 at Stirling Castle, James the II murdered William the 8th Earl of Douglas during dinner. Guess who else just happened to be present? William Crichton! Coincidence? I don't know, but it seems that getting invited out for a nice meal in 15th century Scotland is a whole different ball game. Maybe it has something to do with the haggis??