Dolphinston Castle (site of)
Dolphinston Castle once stood on the site of what is now Dolphinston Farm, but nothing of the old building remains.
It was said to have been the property of Dolfin, the eldest son of Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria (Gospatric was exiled in Scotland from 1072). By 1221 the manor of Dolphinston was owned by the Ainslie family. In the first half of the 19th century it was apparently possible to still see a stone in the gateway of the castle carved with the name “Radolph de Ainslie”.
In the 14th century Dolphinston Castle was destroyed by William de Bohun, the 1st Earl of Northampton, but was later partially rebuilt. In 1361 Edward III of England commanded the sheriff of Roxburgh to help Robert de Colvill to destroy Dolphinston once again.
Evidently the castle was rebuilt once more, as in the late 15th or early 16th century a Marjorie Ainslie of Dolphinston married a Mark Ker of Littledean, and Dolphinston Castle passed into the Ker family.
Little seems to be known about the years after this, although the foundations were apparently still visible as late as 1837.
Interestingly the Statistical Account of Scotland describes “a tower at Dolphiston” which seems to correspond to the location of Dolphinston Farm (however it may be mistaken with Dolphiston Tower). But the description sounds like it might be a possible broch rather than a castle:
“The chief fortification is a tower at Dolphiston, said to have been built by one Dolphus, from whom it took its name. The walls are from 8 to 10 feet thick, built of hewn stone, and so closely cemented with lime, that it is found more difficult to obtain stones for building from it, than from a quarry. It has been extensive, and divided into small apartments by stone partitions. Several vaulted apertures are in the middle of the walls, large enough for a small bed, and some of them so long, as to be used by the tenants for holding their ladders.”
That sounds very like the description of a broch to me, although there is a clear history showing that Dolphinston Castle was indeed a castle (and seemingly a relatively significant one).
It’s possible that there has been some confusion between Dolphinston Castle and the nearby Dolphiston Tower, and there could have been a broch and castle or tower close to one another.
It also needs to be taken into consideration that the description of the “tower at Dolphiston” is slightly ambiguous and could be applied to a broch or a castle. I have also listed it as a broch in the meantime, until I can do further research.
Alternative names for Dolphinston Castle
Dolfyneston; Dolphiston Castle