Earlshall Castle was built by Sir William Bruce, a survivor of the Battle of Flodden, in 1546. One member of the family died at the battle of Worcester in 1651. Another, Sir Andrew, gained himself the name “Bloody Bruce” by hacking off the hands and head of Covenanter Richard Cameron after defeating him at the battle of Airds Moss during the Killing Time.
The castle became abandoned and ruinous, until it was restored by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1892, for R W R Mackenzie, a bleacher from Perth. It has passed through several hands since, and is still occupied. The tapestries, paintings and Lorimer furniture have been dispersed.
There is a main block of three storeys and a garret. There is a large tower at one corner, with a small stair-turret in the angle with the main block. On the other corner a round stair tower is corbelled out to square; at the top is a watch-chamber. The dormer pediments are decorated by carved heraldic devices.
The vaulted basement is reached through the entrance in the stair-tower. On the first floor is the hall, which has panelled walls, and a large carved fireplace, 2.7 metres wide.
The second floor ceiling is decorated in tempera; this dates from 1620. The decoration includes paintings of an ostrich and an armadillo, and mottoes such as “A NICE WYF AND A BACK DOORE OFT MAKETH A RICH MAN POORE”. The ceiling was carefully taken down and the missing parts replaced during the restoration by Lorimer.
The main block, with a slightly higher wing, occupies two sides of the courtyard; there is a separate tower with three storey, the lower two vaulted, and some buildings dated to the 17th century. The courtyard is entered through an archway, dated 1546, bearing the arms of Sir William Bruce.
There is a formal garden, replanted since the restoration of 1892. It has yew hedges and topiary.
As of 2019, the castle was a private residence with ten bedrooms and eight reception rooms, including the Long Galley with a famous painted ceiling, restored by Sir Robert Lorimer.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.