At the moment, whilst I am feverishly writing away at my Pride & Prejudice book three, I am also working on – much more slowly I should add – a novel under a pen name. This novel is set in Dirleton Castle, East Lothian, Scotland.
Dirleton Castle was home to three different families over the course of four hundred years: the de Vauxs, the Halyburtons and the Ruthvens. Each family left its mark and, though now in ruins, the castle remains a great place to visit.
There are three distinct phases of building at Dirleton Castle. The first castle was started in the early thirteenth century by the de Vaux family, originally from Normandy. John de Vaux became the steward to Alexander II’s Queen Marie de Coucy and the round towers of
the first castle may have been modelled on her father’s French chateau at Coucy, near Amiens.
The five-towered castle, perched on top of a rocky knoll and given extra height by the deep ditch surrounding it, must have been a magnificent sight.
A high curtain wall protected the living quarters of Lord and Lady de Vaux
and enclosed the multitude of castle workers .
The formidable defences were tested with the Wars of Independence when the castle was besieged by the forces of Edward I of England. It changed hands several times until, following the victory of the Scots in 1314, Robert the Bruce ordered the demolition of the castle to prevent it ever being used against the Scots again. However, significant portions of this early castle survive.
Dirleton passed by marriage to the Halyburton family in about 1350. In time they rebuilt the battle-scarred castle to their own design. Most
significant was the new east wing, incorporating an impressive Great Hall, capacious vaults and a block of private apartments to replace the cramped quarters in the de Vaux towers.
In 1505 the castle changed hands, again through marriage. Its new owners were the ambitious and powerful Ruthvens, involved in many of the key events of the sixteenth century. When not plotting political intrigue, the Ruthvens found time to remodel the castle a third time, building an elegant and gracious house adjoining the de Vaux tower. The fourth Lord Ruthven, the first Earl of
Gowrie, had a keen interest in gardens and it is under the Ruthvens that the gorgeous gardens at Dirleton first started to flourish.
Involved in one plot too many, in 1600 the third Earl of Gowrie was killed during an attempted royal coup and as punishment the family forfeited the castle and lands.
Following Cromwell’s invasion in 1650, the castle, one of the bases for resistance, was besieged by 1600 men. The castle was taken, and again partially demolished. After a brief stint as a field hospital the castle was never inhabited again. The Nisbet family bought the estate in 1663 but built themselves a new home in nearby Archerfield.
From the late 1700s the castle gardens were developed, with the castle itself as an elaborate garden ornament. The gardens continued to be developed in Victorian times and into the 1920s when the castle was taken into state care.
My novel is set in Medieval times during the Scottish Wars of Independence. King Edward I was determined to take all of the British Isles as his and as stated above the castle exchanged hands many times. Little is known about those days and so I have chosen to place my characters there when the castle was in English hands.
Here is what I currently have for the blurb. All your comments are most welcome. Thank you! 🙂
Scottish War of Independence Series ~ Book 1
York, England 1303 ~ Lord Guy Sumner is granted Dirleton Castle in East Lothian, Scotland as recpompense for all his family suffered at the Battle of Rosslyn. He intends to make the Scots pay for killing his brother and father.
Dirleton, Scotland 1303 ~ Dougal McCrae amongst others does not take the invasion of his land by the English lightly. He hates Sumner with a passion and when the English Lord crosses the line, he too vows vengeance.
Blood and revenge are set to flow in the Scottish lowlands, while King Edward marches to take the whole land and make it his.