Claypotts Castle is one of the best-preserved examples of a 16th-century Z-plan tower house in Scotland. Now surrounded by modern housing, the castle is maintained as an Ancient Monument by Historic Environment Scotland.
The castle was originally built by John Strachan around 1569–1588 according to dates inscribed on stones that make up parts of the castle, which make its construction longer than usual for such a small building. The land on which the castle was built was originally leased by the Strachan family from the Tironensian Abbey of Lindores starting in the early 16th century.
In 1601 the Strachan family sold the castle to Sir William Graham of Ballunie who later sold it to Sir William Graham of Claverhouse. The castle became the property of the crown in 1689 after the death of the then current owner Viscount Dundee John Graham of Claverhouse at the battle of Killiecrankie. In 1694 the castle was given to James Douglas, 2nd Marquess of Douglas. The castle later became the property of his son the Duke of Douglas and after his death in 1761 became the subject of a legal battle for the next eight years until the courts ruled Archibald Douglas to be heir. Ownership later passed to the 13th Earl of Home through marriage who later gave the castle to the state in 1926. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.
There is a legend that the castle was once home to an industrious brownie who helped the servants with their work, but that he left in disgust because of a lazy kitchen maid.
The castle consists of projecting towers at opposite sides of a rectangular main block, known as a Z-plan tower house. This was a popular design in the 16th century and allowed defenders to fire along the faces of the main block from both towers, although it is unlikely that the castle would have had much of a defensive role given its domestic scale.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.