Belton Castle (site of)
Belton Castle was probably built in the early 16th century, and was later incorporated into Belton House which was subsequently demolished in the 20th century.
The lands at Belton were owned by the Cunningham family until 1468, when Elizabeth Cunningham married Sir John Hay, 2nd Lord Hay of Yester, and Belton passed to the Hays.
Legal documents from the 16th century refer to the “Manor and Castle of Beltoune” (23rd May 1513), the “Place of Beltoun” (16th October 1528), the “house of Beltoun” (August 1529), the “house and place of Beltoun” and the “castle and place” (23rd March 1530 or 1531), and the “Manor of Beltoun” (3rd and 4th November 1586).
This is where the suggestion of a 16th century date for Belton Castle probably comes from, although it’s possible that it replaced, or incorporated parts of, an earlier Cunningham castle.
The castle was probably a tower house, measuring around 16.0m by 8.0m. At ground level were three parallel barrel-vaulted chambers from, with an outer wall 1.8m thick. Arrow slits in this wall might suggest an earlier origin than the 16th century.
On the 9th of December 1687 a charter of the Barony of Belton was granted to Lord David Hay, the second son of John Hay, 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale, and so Belton Castle passed from the Hays of Yester to the Hays of Belton.
In 1699 and again in 1710 Lord David Hay commissioned repairs, alterations and additions to Belton Castle. Later, in the 1820s and 1830s, more work seems to have been carried out, with proposals dated 1821 by James Gillespie Graham. In 1865 substantial additions were made by the architects Brown and Wardrop which left traces of the original tower hard to recognise.
The basement on the north-west side of Belton House was made up of the three parallel barrel-vaulted chambers from the original tower, and the arrow slits were still visible in thick walls on the north and east sides.
In 1954 the last of the male line of the Hays of Belton, Major James Hay of Belton, died. The house was bought by the Rennie family, but in 1956 the interior of Belton House was gutted and in the late 1950s the roof was removed in order to avoid paying rates on the property. By 1966 it was a roofless ruin in a dangerous condition, and Belton House was blown up on the 12th of March 1967 by the local Territorial Army.
Nothing of the house or castle now remains visible, although a late 17th to early 18th century doocot and a 19th century lodge and gate piers still stand within the original grounds.
Alternative names for Belton Castle
Belton House; Castle of Beltoun; Castle of Beltoune
Where is Belton Castle?
Belton Castle is in the parish of Dunbar and the county of East Lothian.
Grid reference:NT 64446 76737
Lat / long:55.982214,-2.571405