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Calderwood Castle

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Calderwood Castle, 1904
Calderwood Castle
Courtesy of Christopher Ladds

Calderwood Castle was a mansion which lay on the banks of the Rotten Calder to the east of East Kilbride. It was the seat of the Maxwell family for more than 500 years, and lay within the beautiful Calderwood Glen.

As early as 1246 a castle probably stood on the Dee of Calder in the Calderglen valley, which was named Calderwood Castle. The estate existed right up until the late 1940s/early 1950s. About this time the building of East Kilbride new town was underway and the estate was bought, and then the land was sold off for housing developments. Calderglen was left to make up part of what is now Calderglen Country Park. The castle was demolished, starting in 1947 and the final parts were cleared away in 1951. However the cellars which existed under the newer extension from the 1840s were left undisturbed and were closed off. Sometime during the late 1970s/early 1980s the cellars were for some reason opened up, probably by curious youths for exploration. A few locals now in their forties/fifties who ventured into the cellars describe them as consisting of a narrow passage between two walls with a couple of arched, vaulted wine cellars. There was also a false butler (food & drink lift) and airholes cut to ventilate the cellar. However any more descriptions, I have not been able to trace. When the old building was extended westwards in the 1840s, the new extension was built into a steep slope which sat west of the original older building. Considering the castle was on a peninsula with a 60 foot perpendicular drop on all sides, there really was nowhere else to extend the building to, other than into the hillside. Between the slope and the interior walls of the lower floors was built a double wall, so that the space of a couple of feet between could act as a moisture barrier. This space was obviously utilized to serve as a passage connecting the various cellars. The council came along sometime later and filled the entrance in with salt ash, most likely for safety reasons. However, I am assured that the cellars are unharmed and still fully intact. The Rear Drive which approaches the castle site from the south was also built into the hillside and consequently under its surface are vaulted chambers constructed to support the level driveway. These were most likely not used for storage, but one did collapse in the 1970s/1980s revealing the hidden vaults. They were measured at that time by former local resident Fred Mitchell. Finally, beneath the site of the old Calderwood Castle Keep (collapsed 1773) was allegedly a vaulted passage linking it with the Rotten Calder 60 feet below the precipice. This may have been an escape route used in dangerous times. However it has never been ascertained if this passage really exists. Although, if one inspects the margins of the keep site many deep hollow holes can be detected, and at the base of the precipice is an ancient stone-lined drain which leads from deep beneath the precipice. Both features point to the existence of a hidden passage. It is probable the whole site has been augmented on many occasions as a retaining wall borders the northern edge of the precipice with a pipe drain, spouting water from deep under the castle site. The margins of the river have also changed over the centuries, as have the levels of the land, and the buildings were built onto and into the crags, so it can be hard to see the distinction between cliff and brick.

- Christopher Ladds


  • Archives of Christopher Ladds, local Calderglen historian
  • Personal anecdotes of local residents
  • Unpublished manuscript of Fred Mitchell, Maxwellton & the Calderwood Estate, William Fraser, Memoirs of the Maxwells of Pollock, 1860

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Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-



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