The origins of the name Bothwell are unclear. There have been various theories as to the origin of the 'Bothwell' name and many of them are quite imaginative but a plausible theory is that it comes from the Gaelic for either "dwelling by the river" or "castle on the outcrop".
The Bothwell Estate was passed by marriage from David Olifard to Walter de Moravia or Moray in the early 13th century who then built Bothwell Castle. His tomb still lies in Bothwell Parish Church grounds. The castle changed hands between the Scots and the English many times in the 14th century. The third Earl of Douglas, Archibald "The Grim" restored the castle in 1362 but it was passed to the Crown in 1455 and then to the Red Douglas family in 1492.
In 1669 the first Earl of Forfar, Archibald Douglas built a Palladian-style mansion in the castle grounds using stone from the castle. It was demolished in 1930. Overlooking the Raith roundabout (Junction 5 on the M74) is Bothwell Castle Mansion, built in 1750 as a dower house. It may have been designed by one of the Adam brothers as it shows their style, but this is unproven.
Bothwell Castle is one of the outstanding monuments of medieval Scotland. Highlights include its location – it is set looking down upon the River Clyde. The 13th-century donjon (prison tower) is unmatched in Scotland. A visit brings to your attention the grimness of medieval prison life and the 14th century great hall and chapel are impressive survivals from the period of the Black Douglases.
Bothwell Castle owes its origins to Walter of Moray, a northern aristocratic family who acquired Bothwell in 1242. He (or his son William, known as ‘the Rich’) created the mighty castle in a spectacular display of feudal pride. The Morays envisaged a vast stone castle of enclosure covering 1.5 acres (0.75 hectares).
This was to have had a mighty twin-towered entrance gatehouse and other circular towers projecting from its formidable curtain wall. Only the donjon, the main residential tower, was ever fully built. It measured 20m in diameter and stood over 30m high. Although the castle was partially destroyed in 1337, it is still remarkably impressive – one of the greatest military works of medieval Scotland.
Near the west end of the village is the distinctive Parish Church, built in the Gothic style in 1833 at a cost of £4179. It looks like a lot of building for the money.
At the east end of this building, and attached to it, is the far more ancient Church of Bothwell. This stone-roofed building, which is said to have been founded in 1398, by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, is 70 feet in length and 39 in breadth.
The roof, which is arched and of considerable height, is covered with sandstone flags, hewn into a curved form resembling tiles. There is a large window in the east end and a range on either side. Inside are carvings of the armorial bearings of the noble families of Hamilton and Douglas, and a stone which was taken from the base of the old spire, with the words "Magister Thomas Dron" or Tron, inscribed on it in Saxon letters. This is supposed to have been the name of the individual who built the church. Read More
Joanna Baillie was a Scottish poet and dramatist and was well known during her lifetime. Her father was minister of the parish and she was born in the Manse in 1762. Her mother was a sister of the great physicians and anatomists William and John Hunter. William Hunter of Windmill Street, London, died in 1783, leaving Matthew Baillie his house and private museum collection (which is now the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.
The Ballies were an old Scottish family and claimed Sir William Wallace amongst their ancestors. As a young child, Joanna lived with her family in Bothwell until her father was appointed to the collegiate church and the family moved to Hamilton. She was a close friend of Sir Walter Scott and when she lived in London she was very much a part of the literary set and counted the Wordsworths amongst her friends.
She died in 1851 at the age of 89. A momument to her can be found in the grounds of the collegiate church. A link to a Wikipedia page about Joanna can be found here. Read More
In the mid 1800s Margaret and William Gilchrist farmed 90 acres of the Bothwell Park estate. Their daughter Marion was born in 1864 and grew up in Bothwell.
In 1887 Gilchrist matriculated at Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow, as an arts student and having begun the examinations while at Queen Margaret College, she attained LLA, awarded by the University of Saint Andrews in 1890.
She became the first woman to graduate from the University of Glasgow and the first to graduate in medicine in Scotland. She subsequently practised as an opthamologist in the Victoria infirmary on the South Side of Glasgow.
Marion died in 1952. Marion's father put land into a Trust in 1879 and in 1940 the Trust gifted the area we call the Gilchrist Garden to the council as a memorial to Marion and her achievements in medicine and as a leader of the woman's suffrage movement. Her gravestone can be found in the grounds of the Parish Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Gilchrist_%28doctor%29 Read More