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The history of Thirlestane dates back to at least the 13th century, when a large Border fort was built on the site to defend the approach to Edinburgh from the south.
The central part of the present Castle was completed in 1590, remodelled in the 1670s, and then again in the 1840s.
Throughout its history, Thirlestane belonged to the Maitland family, one of the most able and famous in Scotland. The Maitlands came to Britain from France with William the Conqueror in 1066, and settled in Northumberland. In about 1250, Sir Richard Maitland married Avicia, the daughter and sole heiress of Thomas du Thirlestane. It was this marriage that brought the lands of Thirlestane and others into the ownership of the Maitland family. The ruined remains of one of the family homes at that time can still be seen, two miles distant from the Castle.

By the 19th century, Thirlestane's role had evolved in more peaceful times to that of a Scottish country mansion for the Earls of Lauderdale. The social use to which the Castle was now put required more space, so in 1840 the Edinburgh architects, David Bryce and William Burn, were employed to design two large wings flanking the central Keep. The south wing, constructed around a central courtyard, housed new kitchens, pantries, laundries and servants' accommodation. The exterior remodelling highlighted the earlier features, with the new towers designed to match the outer towers of the Keep. The interior work also remained sympathetic to the work of Sir William Bruce, introducing the comforts of the Victorian age while retaining the magnificent features of the Baroque.

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Additional Photos by Dougie Johnston (dougie) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 269 W: 16 N: 486] (2523)
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