Hailes Castle is a secluded ruin that stands on a prominent defensive position overlooking the River Tyne near East Linton. It is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles and dates from the early 12th century, although it was extensively renovated and extended 13th and 14th century.
The castle was a strategic stronghold during the Scottish wars of independence and saw its fair share of the action. In the 14th century it was owned by the Northumbrian (and therefore English-supporting) De Gourlay family and as a result the castle and land was forfeited by order of the Scottish Crown.
In the 16th century the castle was used by Mary, Queen of Scots who stayed on at least one occasion before they controversially married following the death of her husband and cousin Henry.
Then, in the 17th century Oliver Cromwell partially destroyed the castle as part of a forced attempt to overthrow Scotland after the battle of Dunbar nearby. The English were overwhelmingly successful at Dunbar and Cromwell may have used Hailes as a base on the road to Edinburgh.
By the 19th century the castle had been superseded by Newhailes Castle. It had fallen into disrepair and was used as a granary and storehouse. Hailes still makes for an interesting and unique visit ‘off the tourist trail’ today.