Herbertshire Castle


      Today, nothing remains of Herbertshire Castle. It was a substantial structure, just slightly shorter in length than the surviving part of Torwood Castle and about half as much again in width. This was the principal barony of Dunipace and Denny; at the time of the Scottish Wars of Independence it was known as the Barony of Dunipace and it was not until some time after these that the name Herbertshire emerges. In that early period the lairds of the barony were the de Morehams and, as his sons had both died in the Wars, Sir Thomas, the last laird, was succeeded by his grand-daughter. She married John Giffard and they had four children – all girls. The youngest married John Douglas, son of James, Lord Douglas and the estate went to them. In their charter the name ‘Herbertshire’ is first found.

      In 1369 it was in the hands of Archibald, Earl Douglas and when his son married a daughter of King Robert II the lands were gifted to them. Their daughter married Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and the estate passed to that couple in 1407. Herbertshire remained with the Sinclairs for 200 years. Presumably, it was during the early part of their tenure that the castle was built for in 1474 a charter to a succeeding Sinclair contains the phrase, ‘lands and barony of Herbertshire with the castle and fortalice thereof’. When, in 1510, the king re-incorporated the barony it is stated that its principal messuage was to be at ‘the Courthill’. This might suggest that the castle had been built of the location of an earlier motte and, certainly, the site of the castle has much to commend that supposition.

      In 1608 Alexander Livingston, Earl of Linlithgow, bought the estate from the last of the Herbertshire Sinclairs and then was sold on to John Stirling, son of William Stirling of Achyle in 1632. The Stirling family remained in possession until 1768 at which time the estate was sold once more, this time to the Trustees of William Forbes of Callendar. In 1914, while members of the Forbes family were living there, the castle was damaged by fire and it stood as ruin until 1950 when it was demolished.

herbertshire castle

John Reid (2005)