The castle of Aymavilles is certainly the most characteristic and recognizable element of the Aymavilles for its position and architecture characterized by the four cylindrical towers crowned by 'murder holes' that enclose a central body with a square base.
The building, the origins of which date back to 12th century, was repeatedly reconfigured, changed its use from defensive to that of elegant lordly residence inside a great park.
The first record of the fiefdom and the castle date back to 1278, when it was simple a four-sided tower surrounded by a wall, according to the widespread type of the oldest Valdostan castles. Today, the large surrounding walls of the 13th century tower still exist, characterized by being strongly banked, along with a spinal wall divides it into sections at full height.
In 1357, Aimone de Challant became subject to fiefdom three years before the fiefdom of Aymavilles by Amedeo VI of Savoy, allowing it to operate as the defensive reinforcement of the facility, probably considered too vulnerable particularly the level approach on the surrounding land. The four corner towers were thus made: these have circular bases and are unequal in diameter, height and type of crenellations; 'murder holes' and arrow loops were also built, in addition to a double wall with a moat and draw bridge.
At the beginning of 18th century, the external fortifications were demolished and the land was arranged in terraces and gardens, changing the designated use of the building.
After many changes in ownership, the castle was purchased in 1970 by the Regional Administration, which has undertaken major restructuring in these past years.References:
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.