Shieldhill is a country house hotel which incorporates an earlier castle.
The origins of Shieldhill are said to go back to the 12th century, when a castle may have been built in 1199 by the Chancellor family. Some sources refer to the Chancellor family existing in the area prior to the Norman Conquest, while some state that they came to Lanarkshire along with the Somervilles of Carnwath.
Since the first mention of a member of the Chancellor family seems to come in 1198, the latter story is perhaps more likely. That earliest Chancellor was Hugh Chanceller, who witnessed a charter of William I to the monks of Kelso along with William Fleming of Biggar.
In 1434 Thomas Somerville, the 1st Lord Somerville, granted George Chancler the lands of “Sheildhill” (Shieldhill) and “half the lands of Quadquan” (Quothquan).
William Chancellor fought for Mary Queen of Scots at the Battle of Langside, and as a result the Chancellors’ main house at Quothquan was destroyed by the victors, and the Chancellors moved to Shieldhill, it becoming their main seat.
At this time the Chancellors are said to have re-roofed the old tower at Shieldhill, and made other improvements to bring it up to the standard expected in the 16th century.
The oldest remaining part of Shieldhill today is a square keep which is of a style dated to the 16th century. This would certainly seem to tie in with the Chancellors carrying out work at Shieldhill following the destruction of Quothquan. A circular stair tower to the north of the keep was probably added at this time. This was the main entrance into the castle until 1820.
The walls of the keep are massively thick, and it’s not inconceivable that the Chancellors did indeed either rebuild or modify an earlier tower.
It would appear that work may have been done to the castle in the 17th century, as on the east wall there is a carved panel featuring a simple shield and the date 1619.
A doocot standing to the west of the castle was built in the 17th century, although it was remodelled in the 19th century to resemble a castellated tower.
In 1820 extensive additions were made to Shieldhill, with new wings extending the footprint of the castle considerably, and a new entrance created. Within the keep’s wall, just inside the new entrance, is an intramural staircase.
The staircase leads up to the first floor, where the main hall would presumably once have been, although it is now used as a conference room.
During the course of the renovation of the old tower’s interior it was discovered that the first floor once contained a chapel. Part of an altar was found behind the panelling of what was then a library, along with a wall cavity that once held a piscina.
The original entrance door was apparently removed from the round tower, and set into the south face of the keep. A carved stone, reputedly part of the altar, has now been installed above the original door, and is carved with two shields either side of a decorative vane. The one on the left is apparently 15th century and bears the crest of the Chancellor family, while the one of the right’s meaning is unknown as it is too worn. Also carved are the initials “IHS” and “MA”.
Above the new entrance in the west wall is a carved panel depicting a cross with the initials AC and HR either side of it, presumably for Alexander Chancellor and his wife Helen Hamilton Robertson.
Further work was carried out at the end of the 19th century. In 1898 a Frederick Hume Chancellor sold Shieldhill and its lands at a public auction. A single storey extension was built on the east of the castle in 1913. The castle was later bought back by Sir John Robert Chancellor in 1941, along with 1000 acres of the original estate.
In 1959 Shieldhill was converted into a hotel, and it is still run as a hotel today.